Hydrangea Problems

Hydrangea Problems

The end of June is often a Good News/Bad News time for Hydrangeas. On the one hand, many varieties of this summer flowering shrub have come into beautiful bloom. On the other hand, it’s the time of year when we might notice that our plants have problems. Here’s a list of a few common Hydrangea difficulties and what you can do about them.

  • Black spots on hydrangea leaves. This is a leaf-spot fungus that develops in rainy periods or when hydrangeas are hit with frequent irrigation. It does not harm the plant although it can look pretty awful at times. The fungus does not spread to other plants. You can cut off the worst leaves and if your sprinkler system (or hand watering) is hitting the foliage frequently adjust it so that you’re watering deeply but less often.
  • Few flowers or no flowers. Your hydrangea isn’t flowering? Here are some of the reasons why your plant might not be blooming well. 1. Too much shade: Hydrangeas need about 3 hours of sun in order to flower well. 2. Improper pruning: big leaf hydrangeas (the ones with blue or pink flowering, either mop-head or lacecap) form their flower buds in the previous summer. If the canes are cut down in the fall or the spring you’ll have fewer flowers. 3. Winter temperatures or an exposed location: the germ of the flower bud might get zapped by winter temperatures (below five degrees Fahrenheit) or cold winter/spring winds. 4. Too much nitrogen: sometimes lawn fertilizer gets repeatedly washed or spread onto neighboring hydrangeas and this can contribute to the growth of leaves at the expense of the flowers.
  •  Flowers turn brown quickly. If your Hydrangea flowers dry out they will turn brown. Similarly, if the plants are growing in full or afternoon sun they will fade rapidly. Be sure to keep your shrubs deeply watered during hot weather. A layer of mulch around the plants will help keep the soil moist. In some situations a soaker hose that is wound around the plants underneath the mulch is a big help for hydrating Hydrangeas. If plants are in hot afternoon sun consider moving them to a location where they get sun in the morning and shade all afternoon.
  • Holes in the leaves. There are assorted small green “fruit worms” (larvae) that eat hydrangea leaves. If you see holes in the leaves look underneath the foliage for such larvae. Spray with Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew (Spinosad) making sure to coat under the leaves as much as possible.
  • Plants are too tall. This isn’t really a problem with the Hydrangea but with the placement of the plant. A Hydrangea’s growth is genetically determined; some varieties, such as Nikko Blue, grow 6’ tall and 8’ wide. Others stay shorter. If your plant is too tall for the location there is no way to make it smaller again because the plant will replace any growth you cut in one season…the plant you cut down in autumn or spring will be just as tall the following July. Transplant larger plants to a location where they can get big and replace them with a variety that stays shorter. Note: CityLine Hydrangeas and the Forever & Ever series stay shorter.
  • My hydrangea flowers are white and I want to turn them blue. White flowering hydrangeas won’t change color. You can change most pink-flowering plants to blues or purples by acidifying the soil with sulfur or aluminum sulfate, and turn blue shades pink by repeatedly applying lime around your plants, but you can’t alter white flowers. Some white blooming hydrangeas (varieties of H. paniculata) will turn pinkish as they age and others (H. arborescens) will turn green.
  • Hydrangeas that Fall in the mud: Here is a way to support floppy hydrangea stems on an Annabelle or other large flowered shrubs. Put the stake in the center, then run twine out around a stem to pull it up but don’t wrap the twine all around the stem – only half way and then bring it back to the stake again. This allows you to bring some of the stems up straight but have others bend over slightly, which is a more natural look than wrapping a rope around the entire plant. Note that fertilizing does not make a hydrangea more sturdy, but can promote bigger flowers and weaker stems.

    Cityline Rio hydrangeas stay under three feet tall but have the same large blue flowers as bigger growing varieties. If you’re blue hydrangea is getting too tall for its location, move it. They replace their height in one season, so there is no such thing as pruning it to make it short again.

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326 Comments

  1. Elaine Faithful on July 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    several of my hydrageas have branches that are dying back. plant looks health otherwise. blooming. live in sc. would be grateful for your thoughts.

    • CLFornari on July 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Elaine,
      If all the branches on one side or another of the shrub are dying back it might be that they are drying out. But if it’s a branch here and there, more random, follow those down looking at the stems carefully. Look for either a small hole, a hole with sawdust coming out, or a dark, sunken area on the stem. If you see a small hole near the base of the dying/wilted area you have a borer. Clip the stem off below the hole and throw it in the garbage – not in the compost or woods next to your house. If you have a dark, sunken area that can be a sign of a fungal problem. Again, however, the best first treatment is to cut those stems out, clipping below the sunken area, and throw them out. See if removing them solves the problem. Remember to water hydrangeas deeply but less often – not every day, even if they wilt in the hot sun in late afternoon. Water every three days for a longer period, for example, preferably in the morning.

  2. Michelle on July 20, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Great article….what about watering in the sun? Mine are in a lot of full sun since I don’t have many shaded areas. If I water the roots as well as the leaves while in the sun will that burn the leaves? I hadn’t noticed any ill effects from the full sun until the past couple weeks when temps and humidity here in IN have soared. I often water at night but I’ve ready that can lead to fungus problems.

    • CLFornari on July 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Michelle,
      Frequent splashing of water on most plants can lead to leaf-spot fungus, and if watering is done at night, when the moisture doesn’t dry quickly, this will lead to fungal problems. Hydrangeas get leaf-spot when frequently splashed so keep your watering deep and less often, and do it in the early AM hours if possible. Getting foliage wet in the sun does not cause the small brown spots you see – those are caused by fungi, not the sun. In general morning watering is best for all plants but sometimes we just have to water when we get around to it!

  3. Robert on September 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    With all due respect, it is simply not the case that Hydrangea’s bloom on previous years wood. Thank you.

    • CLFornari on September 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Robert,
      I don’t know where you live or which hydrangeas you’re speaking about, but the varieties that most Cape Codders grow is Hydrangea macrophylla, and these do bloom primarily on old wood. You are correct that the white Hydrangea paniculata bloom on new growth, and plants such as Penny Mac and Endless Summer bloom mainly on old wood with a few flowers produced later in the summer on new wood. Hydrangea arborescens, our native Hydrangea, bloom on new wood as do the variety ‘Annabelle.’

      Most of our customers here on the Cape are concerned about problems on their blue flowering Hydrangea macrophylla, or big-leaf hydrangeas. If these get cut down you’ll have fewer flowers since they bloom on old wood. Thanks for visiting our blog!

  4. beth on May 19, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I have been cleaning up my hydrangeas and I find many old stems come off the plant with the slights pull. They seem to be not connect at the base. Do I gave some kind of problem that needs addressing?

    • CLFornari on May 19, 2014 at 8:30 am

      Beth, They are probably just dead canes – if you have good, new growth coming from the base of the plants than they are fine. If you see no green coming up from the ground at this point, however, it’s possible that something else might be going on.

  5. Emily Bergen on May 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    We have had one of the most cold and snowy winters here in NJ and as of yet May 22 2014 I have not seen any evidence of budding on any of my hydrangeas. New growth is evident at the bases of each one. I am almost tempted to cut all the dead stems as they appear that they are no longer alive but am still hoping that warmer weather will soon triger some buds on them. I even gave them all a good dose of special hydrangea fertilizer several weeks ago.

    • CLFornari on May 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Emily,
      Your instincts are right on the money – cut those bare stems down now. If they don’t have buds on them at this point they aren’t going to! You’ll get tall new growth this year but many fewer flowers (sob!) – we’re in the same boat here in Massachusetts.

  6. Bonnie on June 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I’ve noticed many of the leaves on my hydrangea are reddish on the outside border and starting to look unhealthy. Do you what is causing this and what I can do? Thank you!

    • CLFornari on June 13, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Bonnie,
      Usually when hydrangea leaves get reddish the plant is in full sun and it’s gotten dry. An overdose of fertilizer can also cause this. Be sure that your plants are getting a deep soaking once a week. If you have an irrigation system that only is on for 15 or 20 minutes at a time this isn’t enough to keep most plants well hydrated. If a large dose of fertilizer was applied, or if lawn fertilizer or other lawn products was spread into the bed accidentally, water the plants really well to flush things out.

  7. Bonnie on June 13, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Ok–I will give that a try. Thank you for the advice!

  8. Ray on July 10, 2014 at 5:08 am

    My Hydrangea has loads of white blobs all over the stems and under the leaves. It has not affected the blooms but looks awful. I have sprayed with insecticide to no effect. I now think that it may be some sort of fungus. Any ideas?
    Ray

    • CLFornari on July 10, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Ray,
      I think you are describing hydrangea scale, Pulvinaria hydrangeae. This is an insect and can be treated by first picking off the worst of the leaves covered and tossing them out, and then spraying with horticultural oil or a mix of hort oil or soap and neem. If you use a different insecticide, make sure it’s labeled for the treatment of scale and use according to directions. With many summer insects you may have to treat the plant three times to get all generations, but follow the instructions on the product you’re using.

  9. MrsT on July 23, 2014 at 8:39 am

    We have planted a couple of the Endless Summer variety in early Spring. They have grown really well and lots of blooms but lately we’ve been noticing that the flowers look dry and are turning brown. We water every day with those soaker hoses at night (around 7pm ish). We thought watering this much would help since they receive a lot of sun. Are we not watering enough? or doing it too much? Should we water in the morning instead? A friend of mine said some hydrangeas don’t like to get “wet feet”, so maybe watering at night leaves too much moisture in? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • CLFornari on July 23, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Your problem isn’t the watering, it’s where the shrubs are planted. As you drive around the Cape you will see that blue hydrangeas planted in full sun go by very quickly…when planted in AM or late afternoon sun, but shaded during the hottest part of the day, the flowers last longer.

  10. MrsT on July 23, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Sorry, forgot to mention that the leaves look healthy otherwise.

  11. Samantha on July 25, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I have the white (big bloom) hydrangeas and I’ve recently noticed a few canes are turning brown, blooms and leaves wilt and blooms fall off. I can then lightly tug on the cane and the entire cane comes out of the ground. I water every one to two days, usually in the morning. I live in NE and my hydrangeas get morning and afternoon sun. I cut the canes to the ground last fall before freeze, as here in NE they grow from new wood. I can’t seem to figure out what the problem is. I’ve sprayed for insects and increased how long I water, and still blooms are turning from white to green with brown spots and then some eventually die. Please help, as these have been planted for at least three years and I do not want to lose them!

    Thanks!

    • CLFornari on July 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Samantha,
      It could be that you have crown rot from watering too frequently. The best way to water is to give the plant a deep soaking with a soaker hose or sprinkler every 5 to 7 days depending on the temperature. If you’re watering daily chances are you’re hand-watering – this keeps the surface of the soil constantly wet, but doesn’t deeply penetrate the rootball to encourage deep root systems. And keeping the surface of the soil constantly moist encourages crown rot-fungus. White hydrangeas naturally turn green and then brown as the flowers age – you probably have an Annabelle, or an Incrediball, which flowers on new growth. These flowers only stay white for two to three weeks, then they turn green and eventually brown, but when grown in full sun, or where they get hot mid-day or afternoon sun, they will go by even faster. So water deeply less often and if the plants are in the hot sun you might want to move them to a place where they only get morning sun or late-afternoon light.

  12. Mike on July 31, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    We recently planted 3 bobo hydrangeas together. They’re in part to full sun. The flowers on 2 of them have turned brown while the other still has white flowers on it. I scraped a branch on each of the brown ones (as suggested by the nursery) and the branches still appear green. Are the brown ones OK…is this normal? Or should I return the 2 to the nursery?

    Thanks

    • CLFornari on August 6, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      If the flowers have browned it’s likely that the plants dried up in between waterings as Bobo is very sun tolerant. Either that or those plants are getting hit with irrigation too often and this leads to fungal conditions that damage the flowers. Most likely the problem lies with your watering practices… water Bobo hydrangeas deeply every 5 to 7 days – and by deeply we mean so that 3/4 of an inch is measured on a rain gauge, not in a carton or tuna can! That will soak the root balls well – hand watering, or 20 minutes of an automatic irrigation system doesn’t water plants deeply enough.

  13. Barb Wilson on August 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I just noticed my Hydrangea Macrophylla “Forever Pink” has quite a few blooms that are
    wilting.

    The earth seems wet, we’ve had good rain falls.

    Any suggestions????

    • CLFornari on August 6, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      If a hydrangea has blooms wilting the first thing to do is to see if they perk up in the evening. H. macrophylla plants lose so much water through their leaves and flowers on a sunny day that the plants can’t absorb water quickly enough to replace it, so the flowers and often the leaves will wilt in the afternoon on sunny days. If your plant recovers once the sun sets that is what’s happening and there is no cause for concern. If the plant stays wilted in the evening, that’s a sign of 1) too little water. 2) too much water (rotting roots) or 3) damage to roots or stems that disrupts water flow. In such cases ask how often the plant is getting watered and if it’s more than once every three days you’re watering too much and the roots might be rotting, especially if the beds are mulched. Damage to roots and stems (string trimmers, borer insects, something eating roots) is really rare with hydrangeas.

  14. Barb Wilson on August 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Thanks everyone, hope these suggestions work as it is a lovely plant.

    Barb

  15. Melissa on August 23, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I planted small Little Lime plants this year and they started blooming 2 weeks ago approx. first of Aug., but they have some very thin stems and the blooms are dropping. Is this common for new plants? Do I need to stake them or prune the small branches? I am new at growing Hydrangeas…

    • CLFornari on August 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Melissa,
      Yes it’s typical of a young plant to have spindly stems that are weighted down by the flowers. If possible, don’t stake it because the stems will get stronger without support. Leaves the blooms on until they turn brown, and then cut them off once they have dried. In the spring you can prune the plant back some – removing any branches that are heading toward the ground, at that point, and clipping back other stems just a bit which will cause them to double their growth and thicken the plant up. Come to our pruning class in October for more pruning tips on all types of hydrangeas.

  16. Janet on September 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    My dwarf limelight hydrangea half small whitish caterpillars on them form an netting which is turning the new blooms and branches brown. What do I spray the with to take care of this . I just tries organic insecticidal soap today. Will that work as a treatment?

    • CLFornari on September 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      Janet,
      You may have fall webworm, or some other tenting caterpillar. The first way to treat is to go out in the early morning before they have come out of the protective webbing and cut it off the plant and throw it in the trash. Secondly, Spinosad (we sell a brand called Captain Jack’s) can be sprayed on the plant – this is an organic treatment that kills a wide range of larvae. If the larvae have grown large the insecticidal soap might not be effective.

  17. Rose Tong on October 30, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Hi, I am a novice in growing hydrangea. I have a bush that has leaves that are browning at the tips and starting to have powdery stuff slightly. The buds are growing fine in the center but I’m worried that this problem will affect its growth. Can you tell me if this is fungus? What’s the best way to treat it? Thank you!!

    • CLFornari on October 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      We don’t know where you live and this can have a bearing on the problem you are seeing. Browning tips are common if a hydrangea drys out slightly in between waterings and this isn’t usually a cause for concern. The powdery stuff might be powdery mildew, a fungal problem that hydrangeas can get in some areas. (Where we are located hydrangeas aren’t usually bothered by powdery mildew). To treat powdery mildew get a fungicide that’s labeled for this problem and use according to directions.

  18. Rose Tong on October 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Thank you for the quick response. I live in Tracy, CA, and in zone 9.
    The temperature ranges from 70’s during the day and as low as high 40’s at night. The leaves are browning and brittle and I’m on the fence of cutting the infected ones off. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • CLFornari on October 31, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Glad to know where you live, Rose! And this tells me not to worry because even though you haven’t had a frost, the cooling temperatures are telling this plant to close up shop for the winter. Just be sure that this year and in coming years when the plant has foliage you’re giving it a deep watering once a week. In temps that are above 85 you might have to water more frequently. Even in the fall these plants take up quite a bit of water since their leaves are so large. Clean up the dropped foliage so that any mildew spores don’t remain in the area. (Note that as leaves finish up their job and “get laid off” in the fall, we see their leaf-spots and other fungal or other damage more. Nothing to worry about.) Fall is also a great time to apply a 1 inch layer of compost or composted manure around the base of Hydrangeas – this amends soil from the top down and helps keep moisture in the soil now and for years to come. Enjoy your hydrangeas and come to Cape Cod some July to see ours!

  19. steve on January 7, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I have a borer type insect on my large leaf hydrangeas, whitish colour, very small even with microscope, moves quickly. It only attacks fresh green growth, killing off the stems. It also attacks right up into the soft stem of the flower head. It leaves brown dot marks along the stem, some elongated, and some join to form a 1/8 inch line of brown. Any ideas???? Steve

    • CLFornari on January 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Steve,
      Without photos it’s hard to know what you’re dealing with. See my response to Deb, above, about the iPhoto app that might help id this for you. Secondly, if these were my plants I’d first clip off and destroy any and all stems that you see infected. Secondly, I’d spray all the remaining stems with a product containing Spinosad, which is a bacteria that’s effective in killing a wide range of larvae. You would have to start spraying the stems next year early on since the spinosad would only work if it’s on the plant tissues when the small borer hatches and bites its way into the stem. But if you get the new growth sprayed early in the season, and spray once a week for awhile, you should be able to get a handle on it. Good luck!

  20. Deb on January 20, 2015 at 5:31 am

    Hi, hope you can help. We live in Albury NSW Australia. hot summers up to 38-40, winter down to minus 5 Celsius. My mum has always had success with hydrangeas, the Mop head Macrophylla variety. This year many of the blooms, in the usual shaded patches around the garden do not have the large mop head blooms but have fewer smaller heads with curled more waxy styled flowers, these are the same bushes mum has had growing well for over 25 years. What could be the problem. All look very healthy otherwise.
    Thanks.

    • CLFornari on January 21, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Deb,
      Without seeing a photo of your flowers it’s hard to even guess. Do you have an iPhone or access to one? There is an app available for iPhones called Garden Compass that allows you to take a photo of a plant or a problem with a plant and have a team of experts answer for you. Real human eyeballs on the photo, not just a recognition software!

      That said, is the color the same? Do all the plants show the same thing? Any herbicide use around those shrubs? (Use of too much weed killer can cause curled, distorted growth.) Unusually hot or dry there? In other words, start off by thinking about what may be different this season…

  21. Lynne on March 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Hi, I wonder if you could help me with my hydrangea soil problem. I have two large hydrangeas, one in a large garden pot with holes in the bottom, the other in a cane basket, both good drainage. however, they have both formed jelly like soil during the winter, looks like frog spawn, but I’m quite sure it’s not ;/ do you have any idea what this may be and what has caused it? Plus, do I repot, clearing all soil from roots beforehand? They are both showing signs of new buds appearing at the moment.
    Kind regards, I await your reply
    Lynne

    • CLFornari on March 27, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Lynne,
      It sounds like these hydrangeas were potted using one of the moisture-gels that absorb available water, and then release it to the roots as the soil around it dries. It sounds like a great idea but you’re seeing the downside – in the winter, when the plants aren’t using much water from the soil, those gel beads swell up and actually keep the soil too wet. I’d recommend that you repot, because sitting in too wet gel could rot the roots. Tip the plants out of their containers and gently pull off some of the existing soil. If you see that the plants are very root bound (roots going round and round very visibly) it would be a good thing to put these in larger pots at this point since hydrangeas that are root bound are more likely to dry out in between waterings. If you see the roots are dark brown, these may be rotted and should be cut off – healthy roots are tan or white. When you repot do not use a potting mix with “moisture beads” – and don’t cover the drainage hole, even with a paper, rock or shell. Don’t put rocks or shards in the bottom of the pot – container plants should only have soil in them, not anything else. You could mix in a small handful of organic fertilizer with the new mix when you pot them so that this will feed the plant this summer.

  22. Veronica on March 29, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Hi, I bought two potted hydrangeas (pink with green centers) exactly a week ago, and they are turning brown and wilting. I’m not sure what’s causing this….PLEASE HELP!
    When I brought them home last weekend, I transferred them to larger pots that had Gerbera daisies last year with acidic soil, because I would water them with coffee grounds. I’m not sure if this is why they’re turning brown or if it’s because we experienced temperatures in the 20’s last night and 30-40’s during the day today. Any guidance is GREATLY appreciated!

    • CLFornari on March 29, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      Veronica,
      The main reason that hydrangeas turn brown and wilt inside is if they dry out in between watering. If, however, you have them outside when the temperature went into the 20’s this is why. These plants cannot take frost – when the temperatures are in that range these plants are normally dormant when outside. (The ones for sale in the stores now have been forced in a grower’s greenhouse and have never been outdoors.) You don’t say if you live on the Cape or not, but but in our area, where the temperatures are similar right now, these plants won’t be able to be put outdoors until mid to late May. They are not cold tolerant.

      Although your plants might live if you bring them into the house, the blooms are likely not to recover. You can keep the plant alive, however, and plant it outside in May if you live in an area where these are hardy. Or you can put it in a pot outside once it’s warm and bring that pot into a cool garage next winter. The plant is unlikely to flower again this year, however.

      In general, put your coffee grounds in the compost and not directly in the soil. BTW – Coffee grounds all that acidic since the acid has mostly gone into your coffee cup. And when potting up a plant, it’s best to use fresh potting soil.

  23. Veronica on March 31, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Hi, again! Thanks for the speedy and informative reply. I’m new to gardening, and this whole change of seasons is both exciting and a curveball. I moved to Charlotte, NC from Miami, FL….

    One more question on my brown hydrangeas…They’re not dried out, so I’m guessing you’re right about the cold. That said, both potted hydrangeas have 4 blooms each and on both 3 of the four turned brown. Should I clip the brown blooms off and if so, should i clip just under the bloom or lower down in the stem?

    In regards to the coffee and compost info….Thank you! I had to google compost, and I look forward to making my own. Thanks again for all your help!

    • CLFornari on March 31, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Veronica,
      Welcome to the garden! One thing that we plant geeks like about gardening is that there is always something new to learn, so that makes it fun. Yes, clip those brown ones off, just below the heads. Once the temperatures are reliably above 50 at night, you can plant the hydrangeas outside. Some hydrangeas will make flowers again later in the summer although often the ones sold at this time of year aren’t that variety. Look on our website under the “Informational Handouts” page and download the pdf of “How to Prune Hydrangeas” – it will be helpful to you as these grow larger. And that brings up the following issue…many Hydrangeas grow about five to six feet tall and equally as wide, so when you plant these put them in a location where they can get that big. Enjoy!

  24. Veronica on March 31, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Thank you!!

  25. Mhae on April 30, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Hello! Im so inlove with hydrangeas and decided to buy one. The flowers are blue and the leaves are big. The plant looks healthy. I placed it on our porch and waters it 2x a day because the weather is so hot. From sunday to wednesday morning the plang looks fine. But when i checked it later today the flowers have wilted but the leaves and stem looks fine. I dont know what happened or what caused it. Help please…

    • CLFornari on April 30, 2015 at 6:43 am

      Mhae,
      Hydrangeas have such large leaves and flowers that they lose lots of water through their pores during a hot day. So a potted hydrangea might have to be watered every day or every other day to keep it from wilting. Also, those that are grown in small pots are often root bound (roots very congested in the pot) so that there is little room in that container for water…these dry out more quickly as a result. You can help this situation by putting your plant in a larger pot right away so that there is more soil around the roots that will hold onto water. Be sure that the pot has a drainage hole, however and don’t cover it up. Although hydrangeas like to be constantly moist, they if their roots are kept too wet they will rot. Enjoy your plant!

  26. Nina on May 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    If a mophead hydrangea has been improperly pruned back, will the pruned branches ever recover and bloom again? Thanks!

    • CLFornari on May 2, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Yes, new canes will grow from the ground this year. If the hydrangea is an Endless Summer or similar it might make a few flowers in late summer, but the majority of flowers will be in the tiny bus on those new canes and they won’t bloom until the following year. Most mop heads that have been cut to the ground will make canes and leaves only this summer and if left unpruned will flower in 2016 winter weather permitting.

  27. Gilles Cataford on May 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    first time with hydrangea, planted in the garden, good soil been watered, mostly every day, mostly morning sun,
    but looked like it is drooling flowers are dropping, put it back in a big pot, but still looked awful, but not dead.
    leaves are drying on the edges.do i need another plant or just be patient! i live in niagara falls, ontario

    • CLFornari on May 3, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Gilles,
      If the leaves are drying on the edges and the flowers wilting it is either not getting enough water or has fertilizer burn or has suffered from cold exposure. Most hydrangeas shouldn’t be leafed out in Niagara Falls Ontario now – if you bought one that already had leaves and flowers it was raised in a greenhouse and it is too early to plant it outside. Know that the hydrangeas you buy as Easter or gift plants, with the pink or blue big “mop head flowers”, aren’t going to be hardy for you in Ontario anyway. The roots might live through the winter but they won’t flower because the flower buds are formed on last year’s canes and they will die if the temperatures go much below 5 degrees F.

      If you fertilized it with a synthetic fertilizer it’s possible that you used too much and that’s what’s causing the problem.

      Don’t buy another if it’s the pink or blue kind. Look for a Hydrangea paniculata which will be hardy in your area.

  28. laura on May 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Last year I planted 4 Smooth Annabelle hydrangeas, so far they are back with no big issue. However, I noticed my neighbor maple tree sap ( i think) on the leaves of the hydrangeas. Also, I noticed holes in leaves. They get am sun, shady early afternoon and I am just happy they are back. However, what should I do about the maple sap? does it harm the hydrangeas? also, what about the bugs that are eating the leaves? I am in northern VA.

    • CLFornari on May 6, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Laura,
      The “sap” might be actual sap from the maple but it might also be plant juices that an insect in the maple tree is excreting on the hydrangeas. Usually these plant juices (called “honey dew”) aren’t a problem although they can be sticky and non-harmful mold can grow on them. Monitor the plants over time, but there is probably no harm being done. If there are only some holes in the leaves it probably falls under the “acceptable level of damage” category. Do look on the underside of the leaves for signs of green larvae, aka “fruit worms” because there are some caterpillars that eat hydrangea foliage. You can hand pick off any that you might find or spray the leaves with any product containing Bt or Spinosad.

  29. Jane Hartfield on May 6, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I have a limelight hydrangea that was pruned too much. The leaves on the new growth are curling. There is also small bright white stuff in the stems.I do not see ant insects on my plant.

    • CLFornari on May 8, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Jane,
      Heavy pruning wouldn’t cause curling leaves. Without seeing the foliage and the stems it’s impossible for us to guess what the situation is. If you have an iPhone you can download the app “Garden Compass” which allows you to shoot a photo of a problem and have an expert in your region identify it.

  30. Judy C on May 9, 2015 at 10:43 am

    My dead canes from last year have white flaky stuff coming out of them all over my new leaves & on ground. Appears to be something boring in canes. Can’t find anything online that addresses this problem. Have had the bushes for years and this has never happened. Help!

    • CLFornari on May 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      This is a cane borer. Find the holes and cut those canes out below where the borer entered, and throw them in the garbage. The only insecticide that will work is a systemic – if you want to go that route, come into the store and talk to Craig, Nan, or Chris and they will show you the options.

  31. Pam on May 12, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Hi my son gave me a potted Merritt’s pink supreme hydrangea for Mother’s Day. It has four blooms on it. Right away the blooms wilted and leaves are dry on edges. I live in Connecticut. I watered it as soon as I got it home. Yesterday I planted it in a sunny area in my yard . The blooms still look wilty and edges of leaves are curled and brown. How can I save this plant ?

    • CLFornari on May 12, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      The plant will probably live but do water it well every three days, soaking not only around the plant but the soil beyond. Gift hydrangeas are usually so root bound that they wilt easily and quickly. Being planted in the landscape will help. If it goes below five degrees in your area in the winter, however, this plant might not flower for your in the coming years. Be sure it’s planted where it will get at least 3 hours of direct sun but will be sheltered from all winter winds.

  32. Lindsay on May 14, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    I planted a quick fire hydrangea about a week ago which has lots of afternoon sun. It seems that half of the plant has dried and the leaves are wilted but the other half is still green. Any suggestions?

    • CLFornari on May 15, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Lindsay,
      Water the plant deeply every three or four days. Did someone give it some synthetic fertilizer? If so, what you see as “dried” might be fertilizer burn. If half the plant is wilted either it got damaged on one side (roots or stem) or too much fertilizer was put on one side (could be from lawn?) or something hit that side of the plant (hot water from hose, chemical drift from herbicide etc, household cleaning products) but I wouldn’t think insects or disease – too sudden for those and this is a tough plant. Water deeply less often an hope for the best!

  33. BSully on May 17, 2015 at 3:58 am

    I live outside Boston MA and have three ‘little limelights’ which have been established for about 4 years now. This year, I have noticed that there is a small green caterpillar with a black head which has made a nest out of the youngest leaves on the stems. Inside I am only finding one worm, but a lot of webbing with black things. Descriptive, I know, but can’t see if they are eggs or castings. On one plant, I opened each cocoon, squished the worm and sprayed with Neem. On the other two plants, I cut the bud/cocoon off entirely. Ideas of what this pest could be? Thanks!

    • CLFornari on May 17, 2015 at 8:10 am

      These are spring tent worms. They can be very destructive to foliage. Cut the tents out and destroy when you can, and spray the shrubs with a product containing Spinosad (at our store it’s Captain Jack’s) and you should be fine. Keep your eyes open, however, because it’s a jungle out there 😉

  34. RVitale on May 23, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I have three hydrangeas that are 8 years old which were beautiful and had many flowers. We had a hard winter two years ago and they have not been the same. At the base of the bush only half grows and blooms. The rest is dead (those sections did not grow last year and are not growing this year). The other half is growing as usual. What do I do about the part of the base that is dead?

    • CLFornari on May 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

      When a plant has a dead section the only thing to do is to cut that away. Once you have all dead tissue removed, give the plant a light application of Holly-tone and top dress around the plant with organic matter such as composted cow manure.

  35. ACS on May 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Hello. I live in Boston near the ocean and have two pistachio hydrangeas that I planted last summer. Both are taking a long time to get leaves and buds and I am noticing some branches have brown buds and leaves. My nantucket blue hydrangeas are doing great right next to them. Any tips?

    • CLFornari on May 30, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      If your pistachio don’t have leaves now those branches/canes are toasted. Cut them down until you come to green growth, and on some of those canes that will be tot he ground. The brown buds and leaves are signs that those stems didn’t make it through the winter. Prune them now and water deeply once a week if it doesn’t rain.

  36. MichelleP on May 30, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I’m absolutely in love with hydrangeas and plan to border my Connecticut property with endless summer hydrangeas. I’m a new homeowner and gardening is new to me. I have a beautiful potted pink hydrangea that I haven’t planted yet and is kept indoors with lots of natural sunlight. Over the past two weeks, I’ve watched it turn green. The plant is well hydrated in the early mornings. I recently purchased a Miracle Gro fertilizer for hydrangeas and used this for the plant. I only used once thus far. Will this hydrangea plant turn pink again this summer? Is there a way to turn it back to pink for this summer? When should I plant this outdoors? Thanks!

    • CLFornari on May 30, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      You should plant this outdoors in part shade as soon as possible but know that depending on where you live in Connecticut this and the Endless Summer may not flower for you reliably. Most “mop head” hydrangeas flower best on old growth and the buds on that old growth get zapped when temperatures go into the single digits and below in the winter. If you live in a place where the winter temps go below 5 degrees every winter your Endless Summers will be Endless Bummers. If you don’t see lots of blue-flowering hydreangeas blooming toward the end of June where you live, there is a reason for this…See the article here: http://www.gardenlady.com/read-articles/why-doesnt-my-endless-summer-hydrangea-bloom/

  37. Theresa Vannett on June 4, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    we have several hydrangea that are doing fine. There is one that does not look right this year. The leaves are curly and feel thick and wavy; hard to the touch. There are no buds on it so far this spring. We had a very hard winter and several bushes had to be cut back due to frost, but they all came back and now have. Beginnings of flowers except for this one. We have a week of rain so water is not. I’m baffled. What can it be???

    • CLFornari on June 4, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Hard to say, Theresa, without laying eyeballs on the plant. Something about that one – variety, location, runnoff from lawn products, wind/exposure, soil, watering etc etc was different.

  38. Lindsay on June 6, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Thanks for your reply. I have determined that fertilizer burn is the issue. When I bought the plant they gave me a quick start transplanting solution and I must have done something wrong (major green thumb here). Is there any way to over come this?? Might be too late now as it’s been almost a month… Half my plant is still doing fine.

    • CLFornari on June 6, 2015 at 7:16 am

      The best thing to do, Lindsay, is to water the area around this plant really well and deeply to flush out any excess salts. Top dress with some compost and let the plant grow out of the burn – it most likely will be fine.

  39. Jennifer Dunn on June 7, 2015 at 7:12 am

    I have had 2 pee-wee hydrangeas for nearly 15 years and they have performed beautifully. However, this year, one of them has developed a problem. The bloom heads are just starting to open and then suddenly, the bloom heads will turn brown and shrivel up. The multitude of tiny little buds just turn brown and shrivel up. Some actually do this just prior to opening and some just after opening. I have never seen this happen before. The rest of the plant looks healthy and it isn’t happening on every bloom head. Any ideas? I have tended to them as I always have these past 15 years.

    • CLFornari on June 7, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Jennifer,
      Here are some of the reasons that this would happen, and you can think which (or a combination of two or more) might have happened to your plant.
      1. Fertilizer burn – too strong of an application or fertilizer applied to a thirsty plant. (Sometimes fertilizer or other turf applications comes from a nearby lawn.)
      2. Drift from an insecticide, herbicide, or house-washing product.
      3. Hot water from a sun-warmed hose hitting these flowers before they opened.
      4. Frequent hitting of the blooms with water from an automatic irrigation system that’s coming on too often.

  40. Kari on June 7, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    We have just planted our first Together Forever Hydrangea! It is getting about 5 hours of the morning sun, about 7am till noon. Then it is mostly shade for the rest of the day. We have a lot of wind where we are and we live in Oklahoma where the summers are very hot and mostly dry. I am worried about them because I have noticed that there are little brownish/red spots on the flowers. Also, the leaves have blackish/gray spots on them. I am watering them everyday towards the end of the day before the sun goes down. There are new flowers coming in but they already have the reddish/brown spots on them too! Does anyone know the cause of the brown spots on the flowers and leaves? Thanks for the advise!

    • CLFornari on June 7, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Kari,
      You are watering in the worst way possible. Frequent splashing of flowers and foliage, especially at the end of the day, is a prescription for leaf-spot fungus. That’s what you see on flowers and leaves. The good news is that leaf spot doesn’t kill a hydrangea – it’s a cosmetic problem only. Water deeply every three days while the plant is young, and every five days once established. Mulch around the plant to keep moisture in the soil. Water with a soaker hose or sprinkler, not with hand watering, and do so in the AM so the foliage dries out quickly.

  41. Kari on June 7, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I forgot to add that I don’t have mulch around them yet but will be putting some down today. Also, no fertilizer was used either.

  42. Jennifer Dunn on June 7, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you. None of those apply except perhaps #3. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it!

  43. Kari on June 10, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you so much for your feedback and advise CLFornari! I will definitely take this to heart and change my watering habits!

  44. Lisa on June 16, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Hi would there be a reason that my hydrangea that are normally blue seem to be blooming ivory this year? We live just 20 miles west of Boston. They have been blue in the past. Thanks

    • CLFornari on June 16, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Lisa – they will be blue again this year! When these hydreangeas first start to open they are varying shades of ivory, green and white. Then they turn blue as they mature. Enjoy!

  45. Debby David on June 20, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Should I cut the brown flowers off my hydrangeas or just leave them and let nature take care of it?

    • CLFornari on June 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

      It’s up to you, Debby. But if you have one of the re-blooming types such as Endless Summer deadheading them promptly can help with the production of new flowers later in the summer.

  46. Ashley on June 25, 2015 at 8:28 am

    I live in the RTP area of NC and have noticed where I trimmed the bush last year that the stalks have tiny holes going down the center. I am assuming borer beetles. I have noticed in the past week where some of the new growth is and flowers are wilting and dying. What should I do?

    • CLFornari on June 25, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Ashley,
      Holes are often the sign of a borer but it might not be a beetle. Clip off any stems you see holes on below the holes a ways, and dispose of them. If you want you can find an insecticide labeled for boring insects at your local garden center and use it according to directions.

  47. Barb Davison on June 30, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Hi, I live in SE Michigan and have 3 little lamb Hydrangea plants about 3 years old. This year the leaves closes to the ground are turning yellow then brown. The plants have many blooms.. could this be an iron deficiency ??
    Thanks.

    • CLFornari on June 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      Barb,
      Ususally an iron deficiency is seen on all the foliage, not the lower. When the older leaves on a plant (these are usually on the bottom) turn yellow and then brown it could be a sign that the plant is going dry inbetween waterings (most likely to happen if the plant is being hand watered which is never deep enough) or that those leaves are just being shaded by the growth of the top of the plant and so aren’t needed. Plants often drop lower leaves that are shaded because if the sun can’t reach them there is no reason to keep them on the plant.

  48. Tina warner on July 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I have a hydrangea that the leaves curl up around the edges but still green. Thinking it was some kind of insect or mite I pinched off the affected leaves and now the bloom never filled out properly. The blooms have no flowers but still have shape. Any suggestions?

    • CLFornari on July 6, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Tina,
      I’m not sure where you live and that might have a bearing on the answer to your problem. But when I hear curling foliage and other growth problems my first thought is herbicide damage. Have there been any weed killers or other herbicides used around this plant or on a lawn near the plant? If not, tell me where you are and which type of hydrangea you have.

  49. Joanne on July 8, 2015 at 8:35 am

    I have little limes and all of my 20 plants around our pool have developed yellow leaves on the inner most leaves of the plants. They otherwise look amazing, have doubled in size and all have many blooms that are gettI did feed them once with miracle gro plant food. I live in upstate NY where we’ve had excessive rain (24/30 days in June were rainy) Could this be the cause and/or might this be iron deficiency? I’ve read liquid iron is beneficial, often with dramatic results, but have never used it. Thank you in advance for any wisdom you can offer.

    • CLFornari on July 8, 2015 at 11:18 am

      Joanne,
      If it was an iron deficiency you’d see yellow on all the leaves, not just the inner ones. Usually yellowing on inside leaves is natural because as the outer parts grow and get thicker the inner leaves no longer get the sunlight and so the plants drop them. Too much water that causes root rot can cause yellow leaves but this is usually seen all over the plant, along with drooping, not just the inner leaves. If you have fed them once it’s probably not a nutrient issue – pick off the most yellow leaves so you can more easily monitor the plant and if the outer parts (new growth and flowers) look good you can assume that this is the plant’s natural growth pattern. (We on Cape Cod are jealous of all the rain you’ve gotten! It’s been a very dry spring and early-summer here.)

  50. Stacy on July 9, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    So, if the leaves look like cigarette burns, it’s likely fungus? And if that’s the case, I don’t need to be alarmed? It’ll clear up on its own? I’m not watering at all, we’ve just gotten tons of rain lately.

    • CLFornari on July 9, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Stacy,
      Hydrangeas that get splashed frequently with water will develop black spots on the leaves. “Cigarette burns” is a great description of this leaf-spot fungus. The good news is that this is a cosmetic problem only. Although it won’t go away on the leaves that are currently spotted, if the frequent rains stop it shouldn’t spread too much either. No need to treat although if there are some really infected leaves you could snip them off to improve the look of the plant.

  51. Kathy on July 18, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I have two quick fire trees that we planted the first of July in Columbia Illinois. They get the afternoon sun with good drainage. I noticed that the flowers are now turning from white to light green. I cannot find any information why this is happening and what I need to be doing.
    I was reading that I should be heavy watering every third day, I had been watering everyday around evening time.
    Beside the flower color and watering issue, when and what fertilizer do you suggest?
    Thank you for your help,
    Kathy

    • CLFornari on July 18, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Kathy,
      Actually, Quick Fire, being a variety of Hydrangea paniculata, can get deeply watered once a week and it will be fine. If you water in the evening don’t get the foliage wet. In general, watering with a soaker hose or sprinkler is best because when watering by hand, people get bored long before a plant gets a good deep soaking. Quickfire flowers will shortly turn pink so just wait – the green tinge will go away. Fertilize Quick Fire once a year in the spring with a general organic product such as Holly-tone or Plant-tone.

  52. judy petrich on July 21, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    I have six hydrangeas on the side of my house. They slope down the side and are stopped by a wall that juts out slightly. I fertilized them with the sulphur product that helps them turn blue and the ones at the end of the slope are bluer than the ones at the top of the slope. i think this is because the fertilizer has run down the slope when watered. But my real problem is that the flowers have faded quite rapidly and i have noticed brown spots on some of the leaves. The thing I am concerned with is the branches of the flowers that seem to have brown streaks all the way to the ground. Are these branches dying or do they have some kind of disease related back to the brown spots on leaves? I live in Northern Virginia and i has been a lot of weather in the 90s this year.

    • CLFornari on July 21, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Judy,
      Hydreangeas commonly get a leaf spot when they are getting hit frequently with water. Be sure that if you have an irrigation system that it’s not coming on too frequently, and that it only comes on in the morning so the plants dry quickly. A deep soaking less often is better than a little every day, especially in hot climates. Blue hydreangea flowers brown when they get hit with hot sun – they last longest when planted where they get early morning sun for about three hours but shade after that.

  53. judy petrich on July 23, 2015 at 4:02 am

    thanks for the info was worried I got some disease that would kill them. A couple of other questions if you wouldn’t mind (this is all new to me). A lot of the flowers that have faded have flopped down to the ground. Should I cut those off, including the stem?
    Also, I think we planted the bushes too close to one another. They are getting all squished together. Do you know the best was to remove a couple and replant? Is there a better time of year? I’m in the mddle of a very hot summer in Northern Va. Thanks Again Clfornari

    • CLFornari on July 23, 2015 at 6:20 am

      We’re happy to help, Judy! Come visit Cape Cod next July during the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival (10 days of open private gardens Cape-wide) and say hello! You can cut the flopping stems if you’d like, or you can stake them using the method I show here: http://coffeeforroses.com/how-to-stake-flopping-hydrangeas/ – if you cut them do it in the early morning, strip off the leaves and you should be able to use the cut flowers for a bouquet in the house.

      Wait to move your crowded plants until fall or next spring. Mid-September or early October would be fine in your area. Just know that if you move them in the fall be sure to mulch around the plants and make a note to water them once a week into early November if it doesn’t rain well. The flowering might be affected for the first year after you move them, but after that they’ll be fine. Most hydrangeas will grow six to eight feet in diameter where happy so place accordingly. Enjoy!

  54. Marcy on July 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Received a potted hydrangea from my neighbor. Planted in my backyard about 3 or 4 days later. Live in Delaware and the temperatures have been in the 80’s and 90’s a few days ago. Believe I am seeing some type of fungus on all the leaves. Sprayed with Neem oil and hope that will help. I read that it won’t get rid of the fungus but won’t spread to new leaves. Some leaves are on they ground, so should I pluck them off? Will buds form and then bloom this year? I truly love hydrangeas (my first one), and it’s a David Ramsey plant. Thanks for all your advice!

    • CLFornari on July 23, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      Marcy,
      David Ramsey does flower on new growth so you should/might get some more flowers on the stems that are now just green. These usually appear toward the end of the summer, however, so in the future don’t every cut this plant down “to neaten it up” or you’ll be cutting off most of the flowers for the next or coming season. Water deeply less often and try not to splash the leaves, which causes the leaf spot. In southern areas hydrangeas can also get powdery mildew – if you don’t see protection of the new foliage with Neem oil, switch to another organic fungicide. (I personally haven’t had good success with Neem as either an insecticide or fungicide but perhaps it works better for others. In the garden we learn to “never say never” right?) Mulch around the plant to help keep the moisture in. Note that even well-watered hydrangeas are prone to drooping on hot days as they respire water through their big leaves and flowers faster than they can take it up from their roots. If your plant recovers in the evening it’s not necessarily thirsty.

  55. Denise on July 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I have a Pink Diamond Hydrangea that we got as a wedding gift 3 years ago. It was beautiful, with lots of flower buds until the leaves started curling, turning yellow & brown, and falling off. The nursery said it was a fungus because of the extremely we spring. I was given a spray for the leaves. I cut off the infected leaves/branches and sprayed the plant twice, 6 days apart. The roots seem fine, but it seems to be getting worse. I’m afraid it will die. Can is survive if it has no leaves? Should I cut them off? What should I do?

    • CLFornari on July 24, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Denise – is there a light grey powder on the leaves? Hydrangeas can be prone to powdery mildew. Check the label of the spray and see if it is good for powdery mildew. If it is fungal, the fungicide you were given won’t make infected leaves instantly well again. But it can protect any new foliage from getting infected.

      Be sure to rule out herbicide damage – was there weed killer used around the base of the plant or a weed-prevention product? Too much herbicide can cause yellowing leaves and stunted growth. You say the roots look fine – not dark brown and smelling “swampy”? Brown roots and a funky smell would indicate root rot.

      RIght now there thing to do is to water deeply once a week if it doesn’t rain. You might mix up some compost in water and use that around the plant once a week, or top-dress around the plant with composted manure or earth worm castings. Wait and hope for the best. Yes, plants can leaf out and come back from problems that cause defoliation, so stick with it!

  56. Denise on July 26, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for your speedy response! I just found out from my husband that a grass/weed killer was used around my hydrangea… 2-4 feet from the trunk. Is my plant doomed? Most of the leaves are curled and brown. We had a good rain storm last night, so watering isn’t necessary. What should I do (other than ditch the grass/weed killer!)for my hydrangea? Should I cut off the leaves or branches that are brown? Should I get some compost? I’m desperate to save it!

    • CLFornari on July 26, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      I’d probably water well anyway, Denise. A top-dressing with compost never hurts, do that after watering, and then hope for the best. We’re sending all our handrangea-happiness good energy your way!

  57. Lisa E on July 28, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I planted three “first editions vanilla strawberry hydrangea shrubs” ( hydrangea paniculata “Renhy”) this past spring. I live in MN and we’ve had some really warm and humid weather and I have been watering these every three days for about an hour and half and the blooms are turning brown and some of the leaves on one of the shrubs are curling and turning brown. Per the directions on the card that came with these it says these are to be planted in the full sun, which I did. Now all of them are turning brown (the blooms). Help! I am a new Gardner and would appreciate all the help on these….thank you!

    • CLFornari on July 28, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Lisa –
      Your watering sounds good to even a bit over board, so the browning might be due to something other than drying out. Yes, H. paniculata varieties, including Vanilla Strawberry, do well in full sun. Other possible causes of browning include fertilizer burn (too much fertilizer, too strong a fertilizer mix, or applying fertilizer to a thirsty plant) or having the flowers hit with water frequently. You don’t mention if these are being watered with a sprinkler that’s hitting the flowers, but if so, that could be the cause of the browning. Rest assured, however, that these are hardy plants. You might ease off the watering a bit and deeply soak the palnts every five to seven days, especially if the area around the plants is mulched to keep the water in the soil. Next year, once the roots are established, you can water these once a week and they should be fine.

  58. Lisa E on July 28, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I did just fertilize them two days ago and but the blooms we already turning brown…I do both types of watering (sprinkler and soak into the mulch)… Can I water some of the fertilizer out? Will that help? I’ll water very few days..I was so worried it was the heat and humidity that was causing this…

    • CLFornari on July 28, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      If your fertilizer was mixed at the recommended rate it shouldn’t be a problem. Mulch around the plants (keeping it slightly back from the stems) to hold in the moisture and then water deeply (your 1 1/2 hours should be OK) once a week. Know that new plants sometimes go through an adjustment period and maybe that’s what’s happening as well – we’d be willing to bet, however, that in the next five years you’ll be celebrating how lovely these are every year at this time.

  59. Lisa E on July 28, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Awesome! Thank you so much for your help..another question for you…do I prune these back in the fall and if so, how much or do I just leave them be…
    So cool to have someone to talk to about this…you rock!

    • CLFornari on July 29, 2015 at 7:58 am

      Lisa,
      In general it’s better to prune woody plants back in the spring not fall. They store energy in their stems that is used for winter survival, so in general shrubs get pruned early in the year – spring flowering plants such as Forsythia right after they flower and summer-flowering plants such as your Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas in the early spring. In your area March through May (once the snow leaves!) is a good time. When pruning first remove deadwood, then look for crossed/rubbing branches and remove one of those, and then take off branches that are moving toward the center of the plant instead of out and away from the main trunk/center. After that clip the longest branches back a bit to shape the plant and you’re done!

  60. Peter hirst on July 31, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Hi I’m from n.e.England and have a small large bloom white hydrangea and the blooms and leaf edges are turning brown.we have had a lot of rain lately and Sun’s only warm any tips please

    Thank you

    • CLFornari on August 1, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      Peter – Usually brown edges are the result of age, drying, fungus, or fertilizer burn. White flowers show brown more quickly than other colors, but it is natural for flowers to age and brown as they go by. Most white hydrangeas will stay nice for at least eight weeks and often longer according to the variety, however, so if they are browning quickly something else might be going on. If you’ve had a great deal of rain it isn’t likely that they’re dry but too much rain sometimes causes fungal problems. If the leaves have black spots on them I’d suspect fungi – but if the leaves are green and clean the browning on the flowers is something else. If these plants were given too much fertilizer that can cause browning edges – usually you’d see the edges of the leaves browning at the same time. The plants should be fine – if it doesn’t rain make sure they get a good deep soaking once a week and clip off browned flowers as they go by.

  61. Dianne on August 1, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Help…my husband just trimmed my Limelight hydrangea…took all the flowers off that were just ready to bloom (he thought I wanted all the shrubs trimmed)… will it come back next year?? I’m heartbroken it was going to be beautiful. It’s about 3 years old. We live in Ontario Canada.

    • CLFornari on August 1, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Dianne,
      Your husband isn’t the first to be blind to flowers when trimming shrubs, nor will he be the last. Rest assured that your Limelight will be fine. It may put on new growth in response to the pruning but it’s unlikely to have time to produce new flowers this year. Spread a layer of composted manure around the plant to beef up the soil a bit and next spring apply some general organic fertilizer. Your plants will make flowers next year and you and your husband can joke about them being the “comeback plants.”

  62. Amanda on August 2, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Hi I have a blue hydrangea in a pot but most of the flowers have gone brown can u tell me why and and can I cut them off also I have put potatoe peeling around the pot for fertiliser am I doing the right thing please help

    • CLFornari on August 5, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Flowers on blue hydrangeas go by and turn brown when they are in strong afternoon sun or when they have dried out (wilted) inbetween waterings. You can snip them off. Repeat flowering hydrangeas will often produce a new flower or two, but some varieties do not. Potato peeling water is fine but it’s not really fertilizer…fertilizing won’t make it re-flower if it’s not that type, however. You might want to apply a general organic fertilizer – either liquid or granular – from your local garden center.

  63. Beth Erdman on August 5, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Hello. I have about 15 hydrangeas of varying species. I have one (mophead variety) that was a gift from a family member. I planted it outside probably 2-3 years ago. It’s now a diameter of 3 feet and very healthy looking and has never been trimmed. However; it hasn’t ever bloomed – not once! Is there anything I can do to promote blooms?

    • CLFornari on August 5, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      If you haven’t cut it down, then it’s either in too deep of shade (hydrangeas flower best when they get at least 3 hours of sun) or the buds are getting zapped in cold temperatures or wind in the winter. If your temps go below 10 degrees F. where you are, that can kill off many hydrangea buds and some varieties are more susceptible than others. If you think it’s the cold you might try moving it to a more sheltered place, ideally where it would get AM sun and afternoon shade.

  64. Anita Honkonen on August 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    The leaves on one of my hydrangeas are turning black. I am not sure what type of hydrangea it is – the flowers go from white to pink to purplish through the season. I have another plant of this variety that is not showing the same darkening of the leaves. Do you have any ideas why this may happen?

    • CLFornari on August 10, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      Anita,
      Is the plant with the black leaves getting hit frequently by an automatic sprinkler system? That can cause a leaf spot on hydrangeas that turns leaves black. Or if the plant is under a tree or next to a bush that has an insect problem then the juices that the bugs excrete can cause sooty mold to grow on the leaves below. In the first case, alter the watering, and in the second treat the insects on surrounding plants.

  65. Isabell on August 12, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    I have four hydrangea bushes all planted in the same area. Three out of the four I have had for three years blooms are great but the leaves are getting those purple/brown spots and underneath the bushes the leaves are turning yellow and these bushes are also getting brown spots on their stems. The four bush does not have any of these effects but is not flowering.

    • CLFornari on August 12, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Isabell – the spots on the leaves and flowering or lack of flowering are probably not related. Spots on hydrangea leaves are usually a leaf spot fungus and this is caused by frequent splashing of water on the foliage. So our guess is that the three plants with spots and yellowing lower leaves are getting hit with either an irrigation system or frequent splashing from a sprinkler or hand watering.

      You don’t mention what type of hydrangeas you’re speaking of – blue/pink flowering or white H. paniculata or others. That makes a difference when speaking about no flowers. Lack of flowers, in general, is either because the plant is in more shade (hydrangeas need at least 3 hours of dead-on sun in order to bloom well) or is in a more exposed location that has gotten cold wind in the winter. We’re assuming here that you’re speaking of a blue/pink hydrangea not a paniculata or arborescens (like Annabelle) form. If you know which hydrangea you have and it’s not a blue type, let us knowa and we’ll comment further.

  66. robin johnson on August 15, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I live in central Ms. I have hydrangea that I planted this spring forever bloom I think well the one planted on the east/south end of the house are really looking bad the leaves are stunted looking and have brown spots with white specks in center of the brown spots also it seems to be a small hole develop in the brown spots then the end of the leaves are browning and curling what have I done

    • CLFornari on August 15, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Robin,
      The spots are a leaf spot fungus – hydrangeas get this when they are splashed frequently with water. Since they do need watering more often in hot weather, try to use a soaker hose that won’t splash the leaves. The fungus is mainly a cosmetic issue in that it doesn’t kill the plants, just makes them look bad. Water deeply less often if possible (longer period of time) so that the plants grow deep roots. Mulch around the plants to keep moisture in the ground. Remove the worst of the leaves…the plant will be better next year if the leaves don’t get splashed frequently.

  67. Anita Honkonen on August 15, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    The hydrangea with the black leaves gets watered with a hand held hose once a week or so. It is next to a dogwood but is not shaded by it. The plants around it look healthy. I have many hydrangeas, this is only one with this problem. I will try not to get the leaves wet when watering.

    • CLFornari on August 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      Anita,
      If the leaves are black something is different about this plant, or something is not to its liking. Be sure that this plant isn’t getting drift from a lawn sprinkler, drips from an air conditioner etc. If you’ve recently planted it perhaps it’s just showing leaf-spot fungus from when it was watered daily in the garden center. But if the black continues, try moving it to another location next spring.

  68. Nancy on August 17, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    My hydrangeas are about 5-6 years old. The first year or two they were beautiful mop heads and one lace cap slipped in. They receive filtered son most of the day and living in the country in Mississippi they are planted near two large oak trees. I have voles and moles and controlling them is almost impossible. The leaves are green and pretty but for the last two years no blooms. I fear the varments have tunneled under them. Sometimes after watering the ground is actually boggy. Help

    • CLFornari on August 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      Nancy,
      The voles and moles are not the problem. If the ground is boggy you should move them to a higher location or a spot on a slope so that they aren’t in standing water. Be sure you aren’t ever cutting them down as that will be removing the flowers for next year. These plants form their flower buds in July and August for the following summer, so never cut the canes down to the ground. Hydrangeas also flower best when they are getting at least three hours of DIRECT sun a day – the very early morning or late evening is best.

  69. Steve on August 20, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    I have 5 Endlass Summer Hydrangeas that I planted early in spring and they started to grow and flower nicely. The soil around the plants must have been full of weeds, because the Hydrangeas now have all types of weeds growing in and around the plants and I think the weeds are soaking up all of the water that I am putting down. Is there a weed killer that I can use to kill the weeds that will not kill the hydrangeas?

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • CLFornari on August 20, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Steve – yes there is a very effective, organic weed killer you can use: your hands. Pull them up.

  70. Jeanne Wirsbinski on August 28, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    I bought three small Bombshell hydrangeas last fall. They grew nicely this year, but are now developing yellow-green color in the leaves which turns to a rusty brown along the veins on the top side. I cannot see any insects or webs. The new growth is still dark green. What do you think I have going on?

    • CLFornari on August 28, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      Without a photo it’s impossible to be sure, Jeanne. But if the brown is spotty it’s probably leaf spot fungus. Hydrangeas are prone to fungal problems when the foliage gets frequently splashed with water. Might your plant get water on it from an irrigation system, dripping from AC or other source? Are all the leaves over the entire plant looking like that or just on one part? You might take a few into your local garden center where you bought the plant because it’s hard to diagnose a problem without seeing it.

  71. Elena on September 15, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Hi, I have 2 bushes of green/white Hydrangea, separated by a photinia bush. I prune them the same way and they get the same amount of light, they are planted at the base of a north west facing wall. Now, the two bushes last year produced identical amounts of flowers, but this year on of the two produced very small flower heads, 4 times smaller than the other bush and than the year before. What could have gone wrong?
    Thanks for your help!

    • CLFornari on September 15, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Even though these plants are placed close together there is something different about where they are growing. The one with the larger flowers is probably getting more water or light or both. (Even if both on the north wall one might be getting additional light from the west or east.) Check watering. Also, you could beef up the smaller one by giving it slightly more fertilizer (organic) and a layer of compost or comoposted manure around the base of the plant. Give a bit to the “over achiever” too so it won’t feel that only small flowers get attention!

  72. jen on October 5, 2015 at 7:26 am

    My hydrangea needs help! Inherited a nice tree with pink flowers 10yrs ago when I purchased my home in bklyn,ny.Have done minimal maintenance through the years. There area few holes in the main trunk steam. I would love to send u a picture.thank u so much

  73. RoxyRST on October 6, 2015 at 3:53 am

    Please help with my new hydrangea plant. just bought as a pot-plant and it began flowering beautifully in pink. But it was left in direct afternoon sun for one day and the leaf edges became crispy and brittle.
    These haven’t gotten any worse after moving into a better area but the leaves, stems and flower petals all now very droopy and sad looking.

    It could have possibly been over watered after being rescued from the sun

    Any help on what the issue could be would be very helpful as well as any rescue tips as it was looking superb just a few days ago

    • CLFornari on October 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      Roxy
      Hydrangeas that have been raised in pots for houseplants or gift giving are usually very root bound and often need watering twice a day, especially when they are in full sun. The leaves and flowers are so large that they lose water quickly and go from drooping to crispy in a matter of a few hours. If you are planning to grow this in the house transplant it to a larger pot soon, so that it won’t dry as quickly (at least until it becomes root bound again) and water it really well when you do water – be sure to have a saucer underneath it to catch run off or you’re not likely to give it enough water. Keep the plant in a window that has half day sun, such as an eastern window. If you’re planning on planting it outside, do so right away. Without knowing where you live it’s impossible for us to say if planting it outside is appropriate for you or not. If you’re on Cape Cod come into the store and talk to us about it!

  74. Kelly on October 18, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Hi I love in zone 6 in Michigan, it’s fall now and I want to cut some of my pee wee stalks to bring inside to dry out. Should I be concerned about pests this time of year coming in with the flowers and infecting my house plants. If so what should I do? Also, is it safe to cut off these stocks and not affect next years flowers? Lastly, my pee gee’s aren’t getting a lot of tiny flowers on each flower head, how can I fill them out more? Thanks!

    • CLFornari on October 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      Kelly, Sometimes hydrangea flowers have random spiders in them but it’s not a given. Maybe you could bring them into the garage or a porch for a couple of days first – or just shake them well before bringing them inside. If you cut an oakleaf hydrangea at this time of year you’ll be removing next year’s flowers. The time to prune them is right after they flower. Finally, it’s common for the large PeeGee heads to be made up of lots of small flowers so we’re not sure what the problem is. If they seem smaller than in the past try fertilizing next spring and watering deeply once a week, plus pruning well in the spring.

  75. Sharon on October 25, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I planted 3 new “Dancing Snow” Hydrangeas. The flowers are to be pure white. When I planted it some flowers were pure white and others were green. Now the green flowers have turned deep red. It this due to shock? Is this the color after turning white or is this a fall color of the plant. I planted them at the beginning of September. We did have a lot of rain and I did fertilize with slow release fertilizer after planting them.

    • CLFornari on November 10, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Sharon,
      This is one of the Lacecap hydrangeas. They frequently turn a red or rusty color as the flowers age. Many of the Hydrangea macrophylla flowers (lace caps and mopheads) start out green and then take on their final color as the flowers mature. Most of us just sit back and enjoy the show!

  76. June on November 28, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Please help, I am in south Africa, now summer with us. I have had my hydrangeas for about a year in pots under a tree. One of my plants have just dried up completely without the leaves changing color, even the blooms intact but dark and dry. We had a some very hot days, and I water the plants well every day, with good drainage.

    • CLFornari on November 28, 2015 at 7:43 am

      June,
      We’re sorry that your Hydrangea dried, but we do have to marvel about how this plant brings people from all over the world together. So there is something in that to celebrate. But for your shriveled and browned plants there might be hope if the stems didn’t dry out completely. We’d suggest that you find slightly larger pots for your hydrangeas and repot them. Be sure the pots have drainage holes and don’t put anything but soil in the bottom of the pots…soil only. Hydrangeas that are root bound or in small pots dry up really quickly even if they are watered every day, and if your weather is hot that might be what happened. If the stems are OK the plants will produce new leaves and should be fine.

      Be sure nothing else was poured onto the plants, however – drying and browning can be the result of other substances being poured into the pots, or the plants being given too much synthetic fertilizer. Too much fertilizer results in “fertilizer burn” which causes plants to look as if they’ve dried up.

      We hope your plants are revived by larger pots and regular watering through your summer!

  77. Marissa on December 10, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Hello, I received 2 Forever and Ever White Out Hydrangea plants for my wedding this past September. They were kept in their own pots and when the weather got cold (we live in NJ) we brought them inside for the winter. We hope to plant them in our garden next spring.

    However, I am wondering how to care for them this winter while they remain in doors in their pots. Should I have pruned them for the winter? Should I expect them to go dormant even though they are inside in a warm environment? How often should I be watering them?

    Their are still a few buds on the plants but they are slightly green instead of white and turning brown. If I water regularly the leaves stay green and healthy looking but I don’t want to over water either.

    Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want my beautiful plants to die before we can plant them!
    Thank you!!

    • CLFornari on December 18, 2015 at 8:56 am

      These pots should be put in a place where the plants are dormant – an unheated garage, for example, or a shed. Water the pots when the soil starts to look dry…every two to four weeks as it gets colder. Put them outside in March or April depending on the weather so they can break dormancy naturally. If they start to break dormancy in the shed/garage in February or March you’ll have to keep them inside, pulling them out on a warm sunny day or just opening a door to let a couple of hours of sun in.

      Actually the better and easier approach would be to bury the pots in a sheltered place for the winter. See this blog post: http://coffeeforroses.com/keeping-potted-plants-outside-all-winter/

  78. Jenny on March 14, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Hello, I hope you can help. I have 3 hydrangeas already planted in this a specific area and I decided I wanted more – so I know that the light requirement is fine for part fun/ full sun hydrangeas. I just bought 3 more hydrangeas for this area. 1 incrediball, 2 everlasting. We are in zone 7b. They were planted last week on Sunday. We did one good watering on that day with a little fertilizer. 4 days after planting (Thurs) they were added to our drip system and were watered 2x from our drip system. They were looking fine on Friday when we left town, on Monday (today) when we got back the everlasting looked dead. They have lost all of their leaves. Is this transplant shock, over-watering or what? HELP?!?

    Thanks so much!

    • CLFornari on March 15, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      Jenny,
      So sorry your hydrangeas are in distress! You don’t say where you live, so I don’t know how hot it might be there, but it’s unlikely that a hydrangea could die of thirst in three or four days. You also don’t say how you fertilized – if you used a synthetic fertilizer and it was either too strong or applied to dry plants, it’s possible that what you’re seeing is fertilizer burn. But my general thought is that your watering system isn’t getting to the plants as you are assuming it is. Either the drip system is clogged, or you don’t have it staying on long enough to really water the plants. Remember that new plants have a rootball that’s the depth of the pot, and you have get the soil wet down that far to keep the plant in good shape. If you dig near these hydrangeas going down to the depth of the pot (my guess is 12 to 18 inches depending on how large the plants are) you can see for yourself if the soil is damp or dry. If the weather was sunny while you were gone, and the irrigation was only coming on for a brief period (15 or 20 minutes is common and it’s NEVER enough) then that could have caused the problem.

  79. Deb on April 7, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Hello
    Last year I bought a small limelight hydrangea tree, put it at the corner of my house with plenty of light and kept it watered. Its in landscaping, so light rocks cover the base. last year it bloomed and got a little brown early in the fall. This year, not a single bud on it yet 7 April, and the little stems just break right off and very brittle at points.
    Is this little tree dead? I live in zone 6a, Illinois. I just put a liquid fertilzer on it, not sure if it will help. Is there a way to tell if it has died or am I just to early to expect buds yet? My rose of sharon has buds starting now. Please advise. Thanks

    • CLFornari on April 7, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Deb,
      It’s still to early to tell if a Limelight is alive or dead although since your Rose of Sharon is breaking dormancy that tells me that if your hydrangea is alive it should also be leafing out soon. Both H. paniculata and Rose of Sharon break dormancy a bit later than most shrubs. It is time to prune Limelights, however, so look for crossed branches and remove one of them, plus any branches that are headed into the center of the plant instead of our away from the center. That light pruning might stimulate some growth. No more fertilizer, however – it wouldn’t help a dead plant, and so early in the season most plants aren’t yet using fertilizers but are growing and breaking dormancy using carbohydrates that they stored in their stems last fall. Good luck!

  80. Katie on May 6, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    I live in St. Louis (zone 6 I believe) and just bought a limelight hydrangea on Sunday and didn’t have time to plant it so I kept it in a shady corner of my yard. It hasn’t been hot this week but when I checked the plant tonight some of the lower leaves are wilting and the soil was dry. If I plant it tomorrow will it bounce back or will it die completely?

    • CLFornari on May 7, 2016 at 7:39 am

      Limelight are pretty tough plants – unless the root ball was dry for several days in a row it is likely to recover. Those leave that were wilting might drop off, however. Plant it asap and water it well after planting. If you put a layer of an inch of mulch over the soil all around and beyond the plant (but keep it slightly away from the stem) that will help hold water in the soil and keep weeds away. Water the plant deeply once a week for the first summer and fall. Once established these shrubs don’t need quite as much water.

  81. Patricia R Martin on May 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    2 1/2 years ago or so 3 Annabelle hydrangeas were planted on the south side of my house in central Illinois. Last spring two of them did not bloom well, some stems looked rotten, leaves dying etc. We had had a lot of rain and I decided it was root rot so I dug down and removed the bad portions. The plant at one end was completely gone and I removed and burnt it. The middle plant was about 2/3 gone and I removed the bad part. Plant at the other seemed to thrive.

    I replaced the dead plant several months later, but it has not leaved out this May, 2016. The plant in the middle is in the same condition although it appeared to have small leaves near base of plant a few weeks ago. The plant at the other end looked good several weeks ago and had grown larger. However today, several branches have died and the leaves on them have wilted.

    The past winter was mild, spring rains have been adequate but not heavy.

    What could be wrong? The fact that they are planted in the place that an oak tree had rotted and died 3-4 years ago?

    • CLFornari on May 8, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      Patricia – without testing in a lab it’s impossible to know if disease is the problem here. Do other plants thrive in this location? Have you ever had the soil tested to see if there is something wildly off about the area? That would be good information if you want to plant other things there in the future. And without knowing what the weather was like throughout their lives, and whether they were watered regularly after planting, the soil loosened in a wide area when they were planted etc, I’d just be guessing. Also, if there was a tree there before it could be that the area is still congested with roots. As I say – without being there and knowing all the history it’s impossible to guess.

      You should probably plant an Annabelle in another area and see how it does – be sure to dig the hole three times as wide as the rootball, but only just as deep. Place the plant in the center of the hole and fill with the native soil. (Don’t mix in a lot of organic matter such as peatmoss) and then top dress the area after planting with an inch of composted manure to amend the soil from the top down. Water the plant well once a week if it doesn’t rain at least an inch.

      Before planting other things in that space get the soil tested: https://extension.illinois.edu/soiltest/

  82. Abbie on May 13, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Hello, my hydrangea plant has light green leaves is this something to worry about, if so is there a way of resolving this.

    • CLFornari on May 13, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Abbie,
      Without more details it’s impossible to advise you. What type of hydrangea? Where is it planted? Where are you located? How long has it been in the current location? How much sun does it get?

  83. donna on May 13, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    hello, i got an hydrangea that was wrapped in paper from an walmart nursery for 1$ was marked down and sitting in water in the paper and the water smelled acidic but it was old and something white was all over the base of the plant the roots were sticking out. transplanted it into one part garden soil and 1 part peat moss. the type of hydrangea is an Hydrangea macrophylla or big leafed. i transplanted it into an bigger pot for the roots were wrapped pretty tightly around the small 1.6pint pot really small.

    The flowers were faded and probably give a lot of fertilizer to bloom blue and pink were faded. So trimmed off the faded flowers and put in shade the plant wilted and few leaves fell off. So brought it inside to an sun and shade window in the kitchen the stocks started turning brown and the leaves faded more, when soil was dry watered it through. more leaves faded and fell off and new buds of what might be leaves are coming up and very slowly. Indirect lighting in evening and shade in mornings another one faded. now down to three stocks left the soil is moist to wet watered the other day had the plant for week and half. ph meter when I got it was marking at 10 -8 still is. waiting to see if it needs water later in the week. the tag that I got for the plant states that the hydrangrea loves medium light any time i put it in any type of light it turns more brown.

    No bugs on plant or white flies ect. read somewhere the plant is to only get 3-4hours of sunlight but even the tag doesn’t say what type of sun or how much. Yes I’m afraid that I might not be sucessfull in saving the plant that try so hard with to help.

    I got some cuttings from an mother plant outside they are fine and have grown and new roots 3months now old and growing lots of leaves in the same type of soil i used for this one their doing fine. Starting to think i might got two different hydrangeas.

    If all the leaves fall off and its spring to summer in florida here and the stocks are turning brown one by one from any type of sunlight how can i fix this?
    I think it could be stressed and adapting to changes made awhile ago changing pots and soil around in the new pot and water and lighting.

    Maybe to much water can turn the steams brown as well? the last three steams are half brown and going closer to the soil is green no leaves on plant. Planted the plant into an 2.50qt from its pot it came in. ph is still at an 9 just checked it so its fine. it has small buds on the steams where the old leaves were at. how can i get them to grow out so the plant is feeling more stable? less water or less sun or more sun and water, or shade and little light and just keep the water to once a week since its inside idk, on how to save it keeps fading each day that goes by??? should i check the roots and see if they are still white inside the pot currently? the roots that were poking out of the small pot it came in were brown abit since, it was sitting in water, and an paper wrapper for an gift and buried under plant crates in an shopping cart. please help this is my first hydrangea that i got from an store like this!

    • CLFornari on May 13, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      Donna,
      Although we frequently comment on hydrangea problems from all over the country, the reality is that we are an independent garden center on Cape Cod and can’t save every plant for everyone. Your situation is so long and complex that it’s impossible to know where to start. We’d suggest that you join the Hydrangea Happiness group on Facebook and pose this question to those folks.

      And next time, we’d urge you to get a healthy plant from your local Independent Garden Center and you will be able to get good, local advice and a strong plant that won’t add stress to your life.

    • CLFornari on May 13, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      Donna,
      Although we try, as a public service, to help people from all over the country with their hydrangea problems, the reality is that we’re a local garden center on Cape Cod and can’t save every plant for everyone. Your situation is so long and complex it’s impossible to know where to start. I’d suggest that you join the Hydrangea Happiness group on Facebook and pose this to them.

      But next time, please consider buying a strong, healthy plant from your local independent garden center where you’ll get good advice and a plant that will thrive because it’s not already on death’s door. When you support your locally owned garden center, you’ll also be less stressed and can enjoy the plants instead of worrying about them.

  84. Lori on May 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    What type of hydrangea is the best to avoid the ‘after the rain’ flopping? Is there one species that does better than the others ?

    • CLFornari on May 19, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Lori
      There are some that are more sturdy on their stems than others. In the pink/blue macrophyllas, look for BloomStruck and all plants in the Everlasting Series. If you’re looking for a Hydrangea paniculata, get ‘Little Lime.’

  85. Linda Gregory on May 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    My hydrangea plants have new green growth the bottom third of the plants. Last year at this time the green leaves had reached the top and there were many buds that turned into beautiful flowers soon after. I live in CT and the winter was not particularly cold. Suggestions??

    • CLFornari on May 27, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      In CT it’s likely that you had at least one below zero night, as we did here on the Cape. That’s enough to zap the flower buds on those stems, causing what you see now. In this area we also had an extremely warm March followed by a killing frost (in the 20’s) in April, and that killed off lots of remaining buds that had already begun to break dormancy. The only thing to do is to cut all canes with no green growth off at this point, and live with the fact that there will be fewer flowers this summer.

  86. Leah on May 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Hello,
    My oakleaf hydrangea and my climbing hydrangea both were loaded with beautiful buds on giant, lush greens…but as they’ve begun to bloom, they bloom unevenly on the cone/ball. Some of the blooms look like they go straight to seed in a fuzzy like burst. And some of this fuzzy burst is mixed throughout the bigger bloom. I don’t have any throughly all my plants that bloomed simultaneously.
    What am I doing wrong?
    Thank you.
    (I live in Northern California)

    • CLFornari on May 28, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      Leah – without seeing these plants and where they are growing, it’s impossible to know for sure what’s going on. But here are some things to think about and maybe you can figure it out yourself: What has the watering been like? If they’ve dried out too much anytime since last summer when they formed their buds, some of the germ of this year’s flowers might have dried up. Also, has any herbicide been used around these plants? Either spray weed killer or pre-emergent granules? Herbicides used at stronger rates can cause flowers and foliage to be funky. Are the “fuzzy bursts” part of the plant or something (insect activity? fuzz from nearby trees) that’s resting on the plant?

  87. sue pedigp on June 5, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    blooms are blomming around edge of the bloom not fully blooming out what is the problem what is the fix

    • CLFornari on June 6, 2016 at 10:49 am

      Sue – This just might be that the flower is still maturing. If you’re on Cape Cod, bring a photo of what you’re seeing into the store.

  88. Emily Pessotti on June 6, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Would I be able to receive news letter on my email?

    • CLFornari on June 6, 2016 at 10:48 am

      We’ll add you to the list, Emily.

  89. Louise on June 6, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    i planted 6 new hydrangaes about three weeks ago. They are in severe distress. I don’t know if it is because we have black mulch surrounding them and if that affects them? I have been watering them every day and at first three of the plants seem to do well and three did not now it’s the reverse. Just wondering if the black mulch makes it too hot for them?

    • CLFornari on June 6, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Louise,
      If you planted the blue or lace-cap hydrangeas, they do best in part sun but shaded from the hot noon or afternoon sun. The white flowering H. paniculata varieties (Limelight etc) are OK in full sun. The black mulch might be making them hot but if the soil is rich and you’re watering the entire area, not just the base of the plant, the mulch alone shouldn’t be the total problem. If you’re hand-watering the base of the plant you’re 1. likely getting bored before the plant is deeply and widely soaked and 2. not watering the soil surrounding the plant’s roots, so there’s no way that the roots can stretch out into the soil beyond where they are right now. Water deeply less often, watering the entire area with a sprinkler or soaker hoses. Too much water can also rot roots, so again, deep soaking every few days.

  90. Katrina on June 11, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Yes, I have the varment that is chomping on my plant Leaves. Sprayed and sprayed…I think now must cut back stems as my leaves keep falling. Sad as they are just blossoming. Will this critter eat bloom also? Do not know what else to do. Please advise and put me on your mail list. Thanks.

    • CLFornari on June 12, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Spray with Spinosad only. Larvae shouldn’t eat flowers but don’t know where you are so perhaps you have a different insect problem. We’ll add you to the mailing list!

  91. ShonB on June 12, 2016 at 3:02 am

    Hello,
    I live in Atlanta, GA. The problem I have with my white mophead hydrangea is that one side of the plants leaves and stems seem to flop outward from the rest of the plant. The leaves are healthy and green, but the stem seems bendy and that causes the leaves to be on the ground constantly. The hydrangea is in it’s 3rd year of being planted. I was wondering if you could tell me what to do,or if there is anything to do about it. 2nd question: I have the same type mophead that is no where near the size of the first. It is actually dwarfed in size. Is it a possibility that the cold killed enough stems to make that happen? Will it ever grow to full size or should I replace it?

    • CLFornari on June 12, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Many large flowered hydrangeas flop because the weight of the flower is just too great for the stem. These plants were bred to have large flowers, not strong stems. (Note that now some hydrangeas are being sold that were bred for strong stems: look for the Everlasting series.) Some plants also flop if they are in more shade and reaching for the light. If a hydrangea like Annabelle is repeatedly cut down, that prompts new growth and that new growth is weaker and more likely to flop. So pruning will actually create weaker plants, not stronger. Ditto fertilizing. The best thing you can do is to stake the canes that flop. See how to to this here: http://coffeeforroses.com/how-to-stake-flopping-hydrangeas/

  92. Tricia Murray on June 16, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I have planted the Lets Dance hydrangeas a few weeks ago and some of the leaves are curling in. A few of the mop heads have browned quickly so I assumed they are not getting enough water even though I have increase the drip hose time. A few of the plants had curled leaves when I purchased hem but I assumed they were dry. I have seen no evidence of pests but wonder if it could be something else that is causing this issue. They are planted on the east side of my house and start getting shade from 11am . They were also planted with fertilizer and extra compost to improve the soil conditions . The plants are still blooming but not lasting long before the petals start turning brown. Any ideas what I might be doing wrong? I just end checked the soil and it is moist. Thanks for your suggestions!!!

    • CLFornari on June 17, 2016 at 7:54 am

      If you used a synthetic fertilizer you might be seeing fertilizer burn – this browns leaf edges and flowers when applied too heavily or to a dry plant. If not that, it’s probably that the plant dried out at some point – often automatic irrigation systems don’t water deeply enough and all new plants have a root system that’s as deep as the pot was. Dig down in the area and see if the soil is damp down that far.

  93. Melissa on June 23, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    This may have been answered already but I have a potted Big Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea Macrophylla)
    . I just moved it to the east side of my patio because as of yesterday the petals are browning. They almost look singed. I live in CA and the summers are very hot but not terribly humid. Next week is apposed to be 108° average. What can I do to help them? Also, how do I properly prime them?

    • CLFornari on June 26, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Mlissa,
      Yes, keep them in a shady spot through the heat and don’t let them dry out. When you fertilize, ALWAYS be sure they are well watered first. (Never fertilize a thirsty plant.) Prune by removing deadwood only – that way you won’t be cutting off next year’s flowers.

    • CLFornari on June 28, 2016 at 8:26 am

      Melissa – keep them watered. Browning petals and leaves is caused either by the plant drying out or fertilizer burn. Download the sheet on pruning hydrangeas from our website’s “informational handouts” page.

  94. JP Rogers on June 27, 2016 at 9:42 am

    I live in Zone 5 – 30 miles west of Chicago. I planted three Anabelle Hydrangeas three years ago in my backyard. I planted them in front of my yard shed and underneath a redbud tree. they get very little sun. none of the three have really taken of… one of them has very little life left it appears. They seemed to grow in the early spring but then stall. I feel like they are getting water but perhaps they are not. I’m also not sure if perhaps I did not plant the deep enough but there is a few inches of mulch on top of their bases. I’d love to send this blog administrator some pictures so I can get some advice? Please advise.

    • CLFornari on June 28, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Perhaps the soil is compact – did you dig a hole three times as wide as the root balls? Also, they do need some sunlight – perhaps you should move them to another location where there isn’t as much tree-root competition and they get a bit more sun. We, as a local garden center, can’t answer emails with photos but if you download the Garden Compass App to your phone you can get direct advice from their team.

  95. Anniesly on June 28, 2016 at 4:58 am

    6 weeks after planting 3 little limes, the branches are “splayed out” with center exposed and leaves have become sparse. I have flowers now, but not sure what to do? They are planted in afternoon sun. Watering with a trickle at base for about 20 mins each plant once a week. Not enough?

    • CLFornari on June 28, 2016 at 8:30 am

      Water the entire area, not just the root ball – if the soil around the root ball is dry the roots won’t grow into it and will be sucked dry themselves. Use a sprinkler. The branches will become more sturdy with age. Don’t give them any more fertilizer as this will make the growth faster and temporarily weaker.

  96. JP Rogers on June 28, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Thank you for the feedback. I will break up the soil around the each of the plants and water them more. I actually just ran some drip irrigation out to each of the plants and will hand water every other day for a while.

  97. CC Juliano on June 28, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I have lived in Detroit metro since fall 2014 and last spring – 2015 – I bought two Incrediball hydrangeas from a local reputable nursery with great excitement because I grew them, and many other varieties of hydrangeas, in Fairfield CT and Hingham MA with no issues and tons of blooms and very strong plants. I am a very experienced gardener, and I know how to grow and prune all kinds of hydrangeas. These two Incrediballs have really struggled. I have them in full sun but I also had them in full sun in Massachusetts and they did great! I built a new bed and put tons of compost in, have great drainage and I water consistently and well. Even with all these positives, the leaves brown on the edges. Some get brown spots also. There is no lawn fertilizer or insecticide making it into the beds, and I only used organic Holly Tone in the spring. The plants came back fine this year and are growing but like I said there is some leaf curl and browning of edges of leaves and only one tiny bud on one plant so far. It’s so strange…my plants in Massachusetts thrived after only one year in the ground and are covered with flowers and no leaves ever browned. I can’t figure it out. By the way, everything else in this bed is doing great. No issues at all and many different perennials are planted here.

    • CLFornari on June 28, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Without seeing your plants it’s impossible to guess what’s going on here, but here are my thoughts:
      1. Browning edges are caused by either drying up in between waterings or by fertilizer burn. But brown spots are usually leaf spot fungus and this is promoted by the leaves being frequently splashed with water.
      2. Incrediball is a variety of Hydrangea arborescens, and this hydrangea (unlike H. paniculata) does best in part shade. It’s likely that in MA your plants were cooler and it’s hotter in Detroit. So again, drying out might really be the issue here in full sun in a hotter area.
      3. If you water by hand it’s not enough. You say consistently and well, but that doesn’t tell me how you’re watering. Hand watering doesn’t ever do the job, IMHO. Try watering with a soaker hose or sprinkler for two or three hours, every five days. Never water only at the base of the plant, but water the entire area where the plants are growing.

      It sounds like your fertilization is fine.

  98. Whitney on July 10, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Hello, I am hoping someone can help me with my brand new hydrangea plant. First time gardener here. My grandparents gave me a ‘Endless Summer The Original Hydrangea macrophylla Bailmer’. I guess that’s the full name of my plant. Anyway, I live in Alabama and its been very hot here this summer, temps in the 90s low 100s and upper 80s with humidity. My grandparents actually took the plant out of the pot and transplanted it with the soil from the pot into the soil in my yard for me. My soil down here is clay based. The plant seems to get both sun and shade. I was told to water the plant at night about every other day once the sun went down so the sun wouldn’t immediately sap all the water. I have had it about a month. My problem is that its getting these dark, brownish black holes in the leaves which is also causing the leaves to turn brown and shrivel up like they are dying or something. My grandparents bought this spray that is supposed to be suitable for most flowers, and its supposed to fend off a variety of insects as well as prevent and cure black spot, rust, mildew, blights and other diseases. However this spray is not stopping. If anything the spots I’m seeing are only spreading, and slowly more leaves are going brown and shriveling up. I really want this thing to live, but I’m not sure how to stop whatever’s happening to it. Please help?

    • CLFornari on July 13, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Night is not a good time to water if you’re getting the leaves wet – it causes leaf spot fungus. You don’t need to spray, you just need to alter your watering method. If you use a soaker hose you can water without getting the foliage wet. Do it early AM. In the very hot weather you might have to water deeply every two or three days, leaving the soaker hose to run about an hour. If your soil is clay you don’t want to water every day. Mulch with 1″ of mulch every year to help lighten the soil from the top down. Note that on a hot day a hydrangea will wilt not because it needs watering, but because the leaves and flowers lose moisture faster than they can take it up from the ground.

  99. Jill on July 12, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Hi, I’m not a gardener but I want to maintain an existing garden from the house we purchased. We have a bridal veil hydrangea that has been blooming and healthy for a few years. Now, here in VA in July, it looks like the leaves are drying, wilting/curling, and turning brown like its the fall season. There are NO blooms on it this year either.

    I leave it to my landscaper to trim my shrubs back, but he’s a lawn guy and not a horticulturist. I’m afraid something has happened (improper pruning, mulching) to cause this. I’d like to reverse the negative effects for thus season but also prevent problems in the future. Can you offer some advice?

    Last night I did some miracle gro treatment and a deep soak, since it just looked hot and drying out.

    Thank you.

    • CLFornari on July 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      Browning and wilting wouldn’t be due to bad pruning, but to either drying up or too much fertilizer. Leaves can also turn black if they are splashed by irrigation on a daily basis. So look to those as being the cause.

  100. Shannon on July 13, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    I have 2 bluebird hydrangeas. They are maybe 18 yrs Old. The past few years both have tons of flower “heads”. Each head is very small and those individual flowers that make it up don’t bloom. So it looks like I’m going to have lots of small blooms but they never come out. I love in southern indiana. Morning Sun. Afternoon shade. Thank you.

    • CLFornari on July 13, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Bluebird is a lacecap, and the inside flowers on lacecaps never open into petals like the outside ring do. So I think what you are seeing is normal. IN general your flowers will be larger if you put a bag of composted cow manure, and some organic fertilizer such as Holly-tone around the plant every year, spreading it out so that you have a thin layer all under the dripline. But the inside flowers never open on this type of hydrangea, which is why they are called lacecaps.

  101. K Picci on July 16, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I live in southwestern CT and all my hydrangeas look very healthy with green leaves but absolutely no buds/flowers. The old growth are just sticks that are very brittle but do not pull out from the ground. Can i cut these sticks? Do you think the frost got to the plants the past year? Have not pruned the plants. Thanks for your help!

    • CLFornari on July 16, 2016 at 11:41 am

      The flower buds died in the cold winter. These plants form flower buds for next summer in August and September, and if it goes below 0 in the winter those buds die. Most people have few or no flowers this summer. Pray for a warmer winter!

  102. Mark on July 17, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I bought three lace top Hydrangeas with beautiful blue flowers around the center. These blue flowers are losing their color and seem to be dying. The center of the flower appears to be ok although there is little color there. They are in morning sun and afternoon shade and have been fertilized with 10-10-10.
    Is this normal? Will they bloom again?

    • CLFornari on July 19, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Mark,
      Lace caps are often a different color in the center than they are outside. Once the flowers fade they sometimes turn reddish, but often turn brown. You can clip them off if you don’t like how they look. Most varieties don’t flower again but there are a very few re-blooming lace caps – Twist n’ Shout is one of our favorites…

  103. SRice on July 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I purchased 6, 3 gallon limelight hydrangea plants 7 days ago. They looked healthy with plenty of blooms. Seven days leather they are drooping, leaves are curling and some are dried out. They are not planted yet so I have been watering them every other day because it has been so hot. Could that be the problem? Overwatering? Thank you!

    • CLFornari on July 19, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      If the plants are very hot and still in pots they probably need watering every day. Water well with a hose, not a carton or bottle – wait a few minutes and then water again to fully saturate the root ball. The next day, feel the soil and if it looks and feels dry, do it again.

  104. K Picci on July 19, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    THANKS, SO MUCH FOR THE REPLY. I WILL MISS MY BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS THIS YEAR…
    Should I remove the sticks from the plant?

    • CLFornari on July 19, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      Yes, remove sticks anytime.

  105. Vy on July 20, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Hi, I planted my hydrangea in June. They came in pots and already had flowers. After being in the ground for six weeks and all the flowers have pinkish dot and brown holes and starting the wilt. There are some new flowers coming out, but not as much. I am very upset as they the plants doesn’t look like they were first arrived 🙁

    Please can you help to let me know what should I do to bring the flower back to the healthy stage again?

    Many thanks,

    Vy

    • CLFornari on July 20, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Vy,
      It’s natural for flowers to age, wilt and go by after time. The dots are a leaf spot fungus, however, and this is usually caused by splashing of the flowers and foliage with water. So water deeply less often, and try to get the ground wet not the plant if possible. (Soaker hoses work well for this.) Never water in the evening so that the plant stays wet all night. Once the flowers go by clip them off – some hydrangeas will produce a few more flowers but in general the main blooming is earlier in the season. Hydrangea flowers last longest when the plant is shaded from the sun from 11 AM to 2 PM.

  106. Lindsay on July 20, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I planted 10 Annabelle hydrangeas in front of my new home in SW VA- they receive about 6-7 hours of morning sun, shade starts around 1:00. Is that too much sun? Should I have gone with little limes instead? They seem to be doing fine with a soaker hose set to water from 5am-10am. Some of them have a lot of thin spindly branches I assume just from being at the nursery. Should I prune those? Thanks for any help!

    • CLFornari on July 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

      In your area this might be a bit much for Annabelles in that the flowers might brown faster in the sun from 11 to 1. The spindly branches will firm up with age – pruning will just stimulate new growth which will be equally as soft. Once the flowers go by, cut off the browned bloom so it doesn’t weight the branch down. Even on older shrubs sometimes the flowers on Annabelle are so large they pull the stem to the ground and the plant benefits from staking. See a post on attractive Annabelle supports here: http://coffeeforroses.com/how-to-stake-flopping-hydrangeas/

  107. Maureen on July 31, 2016 at 9:07 am

    my hydrangea flowers have turned green but still very beautiful, my question is do I cut them back this fall as I live in the Black hills of South Dakota, I’m in zone 4.

    • CLFornari on July 31, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Maureen – you probably have Hydrangea arborescens – the one that is a white ball that then turns green, right? These flower on new wood so you can cut them back by about 1/4 in the fall if you’d like. Or you can wait until spring. Pruning them won’t hurt flowering but it doesn’t make them smaller either, since they will replace their height in one summer. If you’re talking about blue flowering hydrangeas that turned green, don’t cut them back at all. Your challenge will always be to get the buds to survive your zone 4 winters….but cutting them back for sure removes the flowers for next season no matter when you do it.

  108. janie on August 5, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Hi CL

    Thanks for all your great information on hydrangeas. I live in CT and am disappointed in the lack of flowers on all our hydrangea macrophylla–even the ‘endless summer’ and ‘Bloomstruck’ are pretty much devoid of flowers. Since we can’t control all the whims of weather ( crazy late spring frosts) what is your feeling about wrapping the shrubs in burlap later this Fall? My dad always wrapped his hydrangeas every December with burlap and protected the tender tops lightly with leaves or cut evergreen branches. It certainly was a lot of work, but he always had wonderful flowers emerging every late June and July. Grateful for your thoughts on doing this and also if you think it is something to consider to ensure our flower buds will be better protected

    • CLFornari on August 5, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Janie,
      One thing we learned this year was that protection doesn’t guarantee that these shrubs will bloom after a cold winter. Many people who thought that they had “the answer” with their protection methods found that this summer the protected plants faired no better than the unprotected ones. Basically, if the temps fall below zero the buds get zapped.

  109. Margaret Wakley on August 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    I bought a lovely pale blue hydrangea from Tescos, eager to keep its blue colour I did some research which advised me to plant into ericaceous soil. I didn’t want to plant in the garden but a pot. On doing this the flower heads imediately wilted and continued till all heads are wilted. I made very little disturbance to the root ball when I planted into a pot.
    What went wrong, and is there anything I can do? This was a week ago, I keep looking to see if it is picking up, but sadly no.

    • CLFornari on August 12, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Margaret,
      Sorry your hydrangeas wilted! They wilt when they dry out in between waterings, or when they aren’t soaked well enough when they are watered. When they are placed in hot sun they will wilt even faster, and the flowers can get burned. The flowers last longest when placed in morning sun and afternoon shade (shade after 11 AM). Because the leaves and flowers are so large, they lose lots of water through their pores in hot weather. Sometimes hydrangeas in pots need to be watered twice on a hot day. They also need good drainage, however – if planted in a pot with no drainage holes the roots will rot and the plant will die. They should be in soil in a pot with holes that aren’t covered, with no rocks or other debris in the bottom of the pot. I hope this helps!

  110. Margaret Wakley on August 12, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Hi CL,
    I take note of what you say here.
    I watered it well when I planted it in a pot, and I put some brokem clay pot pieces over the holes so that soil didn’t clog them up, so maybe that was the wrong thing to do.
    It also stands in early morning sun, though in shade after the sun goes round about 11 to 12 mid day.
    I will water it and move it into full time shade to see if it recovers.
    Thanks for your help
    Margaret

    • CLFornari on August 12, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Good luck with it! Hope it does better soon.

  111. Sandra Parish on August 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    My leaves on my hydrangea leaves are beautiful, but they will not bloom, I get tons of buds, but no blooms. We have a sandy type soil, great drainage. Any suggestions??? Help would be appreciated!!!!

    • CLFornari on August 15, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Sandra,
      If you are growing the blue (or pink) flowering mophead or lacecap types, they form their flowers in the previous year. So right now they are forming their buds for blooms that will open in 2017. These buds are located where the leaves join the stems. So the main reason that hydrangeas don’t flower are:
      1. Cold winter. If the temperatures go much below 10 degrees f. these buds are often killed. If the temps go below zero f. they are always killed. The plant might regrow from the roots, but it won’t flower. If you live where it always gets that cold, grow your hydrangeas in pots. More info here.

      2. Pruning. If the canes for these hydrangeas are cut down in the fall or spring, you’ll be cutting off the flowers. Needless to say, however, that if the canes died in a cold winter and are brown and dead the following spring, they can be cut out. Dead is dead. But if a cane has any leaves on it in the spring it also has the germ of the flowers in that growth, so don’t cut it down. With these hydrangeas, you can’t go wrong by only removing DEAD wood in late May and doing nothing else.

      3. DEEP shade. If your hydrangea isn’t getting any sunlight at all it’s not likely to flower.

  112. Jan on August 28, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Hello All, I could use some advice on the odd condition of my hydrangeas. Can’t find the link to send photo of the leaves. Please advise. Thanks ever!

    • CLFornari on August 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Jan,
      Since we’re a garden center on Cape Cod normally people would bring in photos so that we can help them. If you want me to look at your photos, however, and you’re on Facebook, ask to join the Hydrangea Happiness group and then post them there. I’m the admin so will see your request, and the photos, and respond.

  113. Jan on September 5, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Thank you for responding, I really appreciate it. Might I e-mail the photos? I don’t use Facebook. Or, I can put them in USPS, I suppose. Thanks!

  114. Cathie on September 13, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Last summer I bought 4 Endless Summer hydrangeas for our new house in Wellfleet,Ma. Though small, they bloomed and did fine till 4 weeks ago when one of them died a slow death … from one side to the other.? It then spread to the closest plant. ??? The other 2 do not look happy but are alive.
    This summer I had purchased 2 larger Endless Summer in mid-August.. that were continuously blooming.. but yesterday the leaves on both plants started to curl..One more than the other!? I did sprinkle a handful of aluminum Sulfate on all the hydrangea’s earlier this week?

    Enjoy your Sat. morning radio.

    • CLFornari on September 13, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Cathie,
      Did you notice that the instructions on the aluminum sulfate probably said to mix it in water? Also, it’s been relentlessly dry on the Cape and we have to take the “hydra” part of these shrubs’ names seriously. SO I think you’re seeing drought stress and burn from the concentrated aluminum sulfate on dry plants. If these were my shrubs I’d put a sprinkler on them and let it run for 4 or 5 hours. (Unless Wellfleet has watering restrictions, of course.)

  115. Karen on September 28, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    We purchased an older home several months ago with beautiful hydrangeas through out the backyard. We went through a very rainy spell, where we had hard rain almost every afternoon for probably about 6 weeks. So, when the rainy spell ended we did not remember to water the plants in the afternoon. Now, the blooms have died and the leaves are either brown and crunchy or green and drooping. I have been watering several times a week, thoroughly for a couple of weeks, some times several days in a row. Unfortunately, I have not seen much change or improvement. Any suggestions?

    • CLFornari on September 28, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Karen,
      Drooping leaves can either mean the soil is too wet or too dry – you don’t say where you are so I have no way of knowing what the weather is like there. Dig down about 8″ away from the outer most stems/leaves and see if the soil is damp or dry.

      If the soil is dry, be sure that you’re not hand watering. Watering by hand is never deep or WIDE enough. Use soaker hoses or a sprinkler on for a longer time (in hot weather this might be 3 hours every four days – less often in cooler temps.) and be sure the area on all sides of these plants is being watered. Once plant tissues turn brown they won’t turn green again. These plants will drop the brown or dead foliage. They normally go fairly dormant in the winter anyway, depending on where you live. These are not evergreens – they will lose all their leaves in the winter.

  116. Karen on September 28, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    We are in Alabama, so still pretty warm (or hot).

    • CLFornari on September 29, 2016 at 9:19 am

      Test the soil by digging down, Karen – a few inches beyond the dripline – and see if the soil is wet or dry.

  117. Alvira on October 11, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Hi, I live in Milwaukee, WI zone 5a. I purchased online a quart sized incrediball hydrangea to plant this fall. I received it 5 days ago. This is my first experience with any hydrangea. It’s cold hardy but I was thinking if it’s still too small to plant it outside. It’s soon going to be first frost here. Should I leave it in same small pot or plant it in a bigger pot and then leave it in the unseated garage for spring planting? Or should I go ahead and plant it outside? Any suggestions

    • CLFornari on October 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Alvira,
      Yes, shrubs installed in the fall with such small root systems are more prone to winter damage or death. That argues for putting it in a larger pot and keeping it in an unheated garage. If this was my plant I’d put it in a pot that’s at least 18″ in diameter, with garden soil or potting soil, but leave it outside for now. Let it go though the normal frosts as long as the day-time temperatures go above 40 degrees. Once it seems like the temperatures will move below that pull the pot into the garage. Check the soil every three to four weeks and water if it’s dry. Once spring comes you can pull it outside. There is some danger that the plant will break dormancy too early in the garage. If this happens, let it do so, pulling it near a window if you have one. You can also pull it up to the door on warmer days and open the garage door so that it gets light, and then close the door after an hour or two. In other words, you might have to jump through some hoops to ease it back into the “real world” next spring.

      The alternative is to plant it now where you want it to grow and to surround the newly placed plant with a top dressing of an inch thick composted manure to create a dark covering on the soil that will absorb heat. Then once it’s colder, sometime in December in your area, mound pine branches over the plant to protect it. You don’t want to do that very early, however, or mice can move in and eat the plant in their cozy surroundings.

  118. Conrad on October 16, 2016 at 8:11 am

    I recently bought two lovely little lime hydrangeas. Planted at the end of this summer and looked like they were doing well. I made the big mistake of giving them rose food fertiliser granules.. twice in a month. I know.. stupid me. They have dried up completely. First the smaller one but soon after the larger plant. It is still strong and standing with flower heads and stems.. but burnt out completely.. flowers and leaves all dried, shrivelled and brown.
    My question is… will the plant recover in the spring or am I looking at a dead plant? 🙁 Thank you !

    • CLFornari on October 17, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Conrad,
      If the fertilizer was a synthetic type you are correct, it is probably fertilizer burn. But if it was an organic food that wasn’t the cause of the browning – if the fertilizer was organic the plants probably just got too dry in between waterings. That said, what do you do now? Water them really well, not by hand, but using a sprinkler or soaker hose so that the area around the plants get saturated as well as the root ball. Do this once a week until mid-November to help promote root growth as well as flush any fertilizer salts from the soil. Then hope for the best – these are pretty strong plants so there is a chance they’ll come back.

  119. Kelly on November 17, 2016 at 1:02 am

    I have a pistachio hydrangea that has doubled in size in the 18 months it’s been in my yard here in central California

    But the blooms were not at all the same this last season they barely filled in with color at all they mostly stayed green

    What can I do to improve color next season

    This plant gets early morning sun with dappled shade by midday and full shade by afternoon and gets a deep watering weekly

    • CLFornari on November 17, 2016 at 7:14 am

      Kelly – I’d suggest three things: 1. Apply lime or wood ashes around this plant now and again in the spring to raise pH which will encourage the pink/red color. 2. Apply a light application of an organic fertilizer now and again in April – something like Flower-tone or Plant-tone (not Holly-tone) is fine. A light application of composted manure on the surface before mulching next year (if you do mulch) is also beneficial. Although fertilizer doesn’t change flower color it can help intensify flower color. and lastly, if it tends to wilt on hot days you might water it twice a week instead of once.

  120. Caroline on November 22, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Hi there, I wonder if you can help me. I bought a young blue hydrangea a few months ago and I planted it up in a pot. I noticed at the weekend that the leaves are turning black from the tips and towards the top of the plant and wilting. Does this mean the drainage isn’t good enough in the pot? The weather has started to get quite cold and wet here.

    Also, should I try and move it to more of a sheltered spot over the winter?

    Many thanks
    Caroline (UK)

    • CLFornari on November 22, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      Caroline,
      These are plants that lose their leaves in the winter but unless your temps go below 0 C. you don’t have to bring them inside. Hopefully the pot has drainage holes, yes? It should be a fairly large pot if you want to leave it outside over the winter. If you want to protect it you shouldn’t bring it into a warm house, however, but keep it in an attached garage or a cold basement. Since they lose their leaves the space you keep it doesn’t have to be light but you should check the soil every couple of weeks and water if the soil is getting dry.

  121. Susan on March 17, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    last summer the leaves on my limelight hydrangeas had tiny holes in the leaves, leaving a lace appearance . I sprayed with insecticide recommended by the nursery several times and removed damaged leaves. Didn’t seem to help. Only found a green grasshopper on it once. Is there something to treat the soul with now(March in Mississippi). I’m planning to fertilize soon.

    • CLFornari on March 17, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      No, without knowing what caused the holes it’s not wise to do anything to the soil now – keep in mind that if you use an insecticide in the soil you’ll kill the earthworms and the good insects that help keep the “bad guys” in check. Most leaf issues like you describe are caused by a larvae and the best way to treat is to spray the leaves with a product containing Spinosad (like Captain Jacks). Next summer check the leaves and as soon as you see holes, spray with Spinosad.

  122. Susan Board on March 30, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I have two nikko blue hydrangeas. I noticed on the hardwood that there is no new green growth on them, I know you don’t cut back nikko’s, The buds that I see are brown and dry. there is new green growth at the bottom of the plant. Should I wait and see what happens around may or june before deciding to remove them?

    • CLFornari on March 30, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Susan – I don’t know where you live so impossible for me to give you a timeline…but if you see new green growth coming up from the ground, and nothing is happening on the stalks, it’s likely that they got zapped by the winter. Once the shoots from the ground are about 4 or 5″ high, cut off any canes that have no green buds opening. In such cases you won’t have any flowers this year.

  123. Lou Ann on April 1, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Lou Ann in NW corner of Middle TN, zone 6b
    CLFornari,
    I want to try a large hydrangea in a tough spot: three hours direct sun from 11 am to 2 pm. Part of the area gets somewhat filtered light from the deck railing’s shade, but at mid-day, the shade thrown is rather small. Thus, the plant will sit largely in direct sun for most of the three hours. It is an area that receives a lot of shade the rest of the day because of large tree canopies. Is there a variety that might live and bloom in this spot? I do love the Vanilla Strawberry, but I suppose I should be grateful if any hydrangea will be happy to show out here.

    • CLFornari on April 1, 2017 at 7:45 am

      Lou Ann,
      Vanilla Strawberry would need more sun. You could successfully grow an Annabelle there, and Invincibelle Spirit II (same type, but pink flowers) would also do OK there. The blue macrophyllas (Endless Summer etc) would do OK but wouldn’t flower if the the winter temperatures go below 5 degrees.

  124. Susan Board on April 15, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Hi, I have two nikko blue hydrangeas…on the old wood, it doesn’t look like there are any new green shoots. Just dried up brown buds. Should I wait too see what happens before cutting them back?

    • CLFornari on April 16, 2017 at 3:59 am

      Susan – thanks to telling me where you live! Yes, at this point you should wait. In May, you’ll see green shoots that are coming up from the ground. At that point look to see if any of the bud on the old stems are developing into green leaves – any canes that have green buds or small leaves on them should remain because that is where your flowers will come from. If none of the canes show signs of life by the third week in May, and the plant is growing quickly from the ground at that point, cut all bare canes down as far as possible. If this happens you won’t have flowers this summer, however. You might want to get a hydrangea that produces flowers on new growth as well as old…I’d suggest that you try Bloomstruck.

  125. Susan Board on April 15, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    P.S I live in Ohio

  126. KevinM on May 4, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Hi, I just bought two Limelight Paniculata starter plants and potted them on into bigger pots as it is maybe too cool here in Omak WA zone 4-5 to plant them out yet. The leaves have started drying up and shrivelling and falling off from the base although the leaves at the top of the branches are still OK. They are about 6 inches high. I can’t see any sign of insects or fungus, the leaves are green but dried up. Other paniculatas bought at the same time similarly potted like pillow talk, bobo, quicjfire all seem fine. Any ideas appreciated.

    • CLFornari on May 5, 2017 at 6:55 am

      Kevin,
      Leaves may appear shriveled/dried if they’ve actually dried up in between waterings, if they have gotten too much fertilizer (fertilizer burn, if they’ve been sunburned by too sudden exposure to “the real deal” in terms of sunshine, or if they got hit by mistake with something such as window cleaner etc. This hydrangea isn’t prone to mildew or other fungal problems, and insects don’t cause drying of leaves. At this point try to keep it as healthy as possible and hope for the best until it’s planted outside!

  127. KevinM on May 5, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks for the quick reply! I have not fertilized it nor had any chemicals nearby and been careful with watering although wondering if I overwatered it. As they have been sheltering in the garage someone mentioned it may be damping off (although the leaves are dry and crispy) and to repot in loose soil. It looks like it is working up from the base to the top of the plant. Seems odd only the limelights are affected. Thanks for the help.

    • CLFornari on May 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      I’ve never seen a hydrangea get damping off but it could be botrytis fungus if the plant was kept too wet. Try spraying with one of the organic fungicides such as Serenade or sulphur. Be sure it’s kept in a bright spot with good air circulation and let the surface of the soil in the pot dry out before watering again. Good luck!

  128. Jenny on May 16, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Planted two Nikko blues 2 weeks ago in NC. Been hand watering about every other day as it’s been hot. One gets a ton of sun and wilts during the hot sun.
    But everything always comes back and full except for this morning. I woke up to 5 flower heads slumped with some brown leave tips and those flower stems have turned brown as well. What have I done? Also, I’m so upset the flowers are purplish instead of the beautiful blue.

    • CLFornari on May 16, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Jenny,
      Unfortunately hand watering is a “quick fix” that doesn’t last. You should try putting a soaker hose or sprinkler on these plants for a longer time – it would soak deeper over a wider area of ground. Most people only direct the water right on the base of a plant when they hand water and this doesn’t get the ground on all sides damp. So your watering wasn’t wide or deep enough. If the color is purple the soil is too alkaline – Sprinkle some sulfur around the area to help lower the pH. Many new hydrangeas are raised in a neutral pH soil so it’s not unusual for the color not to be very blue the first year. Also, when the plant just begins to make flowers the color is different than later in the summer as they mature.

  129. Jenny on May 16, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you. So usuing a sprinkler I’d be getting the leaves and flowers wet, that’s ok?? I’m cutting off the dead flowers. The stems have gone brown along with some wiltering leaves how far down should I cut those stems back?

    • CLFornari on May 17, 2017 at 8:34 am

      It’s OK if you get leaves wet once a week or at most every 5 days – water in the morning, never at night, so that the foliage dries quickly. Right now just take off wilted leaves but wait a bit to cut back the stems. In a month or so you’ll be able to see which stem has died and which one is putting out new foliage. At that point cut off the dead wood and leave what is regrowing.

  130. christine on May 17, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Hi, I have 2 dwarf hydrangeas and every summer they get a lot of beautiful blooms but the blooms seem to heavy for the braaches and they end up just laying/dragging on the ground. Is there something I can do to avoid this?

    • CLFornari on May 17, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Don’t prune them much, don’t fertilize much and water once a week but deeply. That said, some cultivars are bred for large flowers and these will be heavy no matter what you do. See this blog post for a good way to stake them: http://coffeeforroses.com/how-to-stake-flopping-hydrangeas/

  131. Mona on May 26, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I just planted a quick fire hydrangea in full sun. It’s a decent size and has little bloom heads already. The leaves have started to turn a red brown and some yellow. Not all the leaves are that way, but I’m concerned it may be dying. I do water deep and slow and we’ve had a lot of rain. This is my first paniculata and I keep telling myself it’s stress after planting, but my macrophyllas never acted like this. Any help would be wonderful. Just for reference I’m in Zone 5b in northwest of Chicago. Thanks you in advance.

    • CLFornari on May 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Mona,
      Paniculatas don’t need quite the same amount of water as macrophyllas. If it’s still cool in your area a good deep soaking every 5 or 6 days will be enough. And be sure not to just water the base of the plant but the area around it as well, so the roots can stretch into the surrounding moist soil. If it’s just the older leaves I wouldn’t be too worried. I’m assuming you didn’t add fertilizer, or other products to the area before planting?

  132. Mona on May 26, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    It looks like older leaves mostly. I will make sure the surrounding gets as much as the base. I did not fertilize, but I did amend the soil with compost as i do with everything I plant. It has been windy here and although no frost, temps can get down to 49-50 on some nights. I haven’t done the deep watering for 3 days since we’ve had rain, so I’m glad you mentioned the difference in water needs. I will keep an eye on new grownth. Thank you for your fast response!!

    • CLFornari on May 26, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      Mona,
      Sounds like you’re on the right track. I think it will recover and grow well this summer!

  133. Beth Hutmacher on May 27, 2017 at 11:17 am

    We’ve had an unusual winter here in the Pacific Northwest. Periods of very cold weather, then mild, and endless days of overcast. A damp, gray, spring. We had some early mild days in January, so I transplanted my little hydrangea and cut back the spent blooms. But then we had an extended cold spell, an arctic blast from the north for over a week. But spring finally arrived and this plant’s leaf buds began to open and then stopped. They look like healthy buds and there are occasional fully-opened leaves, but a lot of the plant simply looks stuck. The other hydrangea in the yard, in another spot, is fully leafed-out and looks fine. Should I continue to wait and hope or prune this back hard and hope it looks better next year? Every time I look at it I feel guilty that I did something wrong and it is usually such a lovely little no-hassle bush. Any advice?

    • CLFornari on May 27, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Continue to wait and be patient – the plant is undoubtedly putting attention into its root system, and the larger and stronger those roots, the more growth you will see on top. Don’t prune yet – wait for at least a month and see what happens. You can always prune off any dead wood at the end of June.

  134. Beth Hutmacher on May 28, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Thank you. I am reassured and will do as you suggest. You are a wonderful resource, CLFornari.

  135. Monique Brown on June 1, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    My husband bought me a pink patio hydrangea tree for Mother’s Day. It did not come with a plant tag for me to see what the actual name of it is. I live in East Tennessee. I am having a hard time knowing what kind of hydrangea it is to try to read and research how to best take care of it. I plan on putttrung them in two huge pots. I am also confused on when to prune it and how. I have two of them. One of them the blooms are all turning brown. I water them once a day. Thank you for your help in advance. Monique

    • CLFornari on June 6, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Monique,
      It’s kind of hard to know how to advise you without knowing which type of hydrangea you have. The various types are pruned differently. Browning flowers can either be due to drying up or too much sun for some types. We’d suggest that you take a photo of these plants and take it into your local garden center for advice. If you’re on Facebook, you can join the Hydrangea Happiness group and post a photo there for an ID and advice.

  136. Beth Hutmacher on June 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    You gave me such good advice previously and I’m wondering if you can help again. My 10 year old climbing hydrangea is doing something I’ve not seen in previous years. Healthy growth, healthy blooms coming on as usual, but the highest branch recently began to show some distress. The leaves at the tip have turned brown and wilted. And now I see that there is a bit lower branch showing these same symptoms. Our Pacific Northwest spring has been cool and damp with the occasional run of a few sunny days. I haven’t watered yet as the dirt seems damp still. Could this be the problem? Part of the plant (on a tall fence) gets full sun and the other side faces north. Neither side of the plant is showing distress except for this one area at the top. Can you tell me what’s happening from this description and what I can do to prevent it from spreading (oh no!) to the rest of the plant.

    Thank you.
    Beth

    • CLFornari on June 6, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Beth,
      From a description alone it’s kind of hard to know what’s going on. If tips of a plant brown and wilt, there can be a few possible causes. Here are some to consider: 1. The plant has dried up. (Yes, I know you said you’ve had a cool damp spring but this is the first thing to consider so we mention it here.) 2. Fertilizer burn. If a synthetic fertilizer was applied to heavily, that can cause browning on the ends of branches. Sometimes fertilizer comes from an application to a lawn or other location. 3. A concentration of another garden product – like fertilizer burn, if too much of another product has been used that can result in leaf damage. 4. The plant hit with drift from a house-washing or herbicide applied in the area. 5. Botrytis or similar fungal conditions. This might be what’s going on with your plant. In cold damp weather it’s a fungal party out there! We often see blackening on things like lilacs and peonies in such conditions. So think of which of these might be the problem. If you suspect that it’s fungal you can spray with something like Serenade to help protect the other foliage.

  137. Beth Hutmacher on June 7, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks so much.

    Beth

  138. S. Hall on June 11, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I live in central Ohio. Planted 3 new nantucket Blue hydrangeas and all blooms are burning out upon opening. The plant does receive direct sun from 11-2, but shade due to tree canopy rest of the time. Is this too much sun? Some leaves appear black-edged as well, almost burned in appearance. All blooms on the plant look the same. Not just the blooms on top. Any suggestions?

    • CLFornari on June 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      S,
      Mophead hydrangeas can blacken if they have dried out between waterings, been over-fertilized, or had too much aluminum sulfate or other garden product applied. Yes, hot noon-day sun can make the flowers go by faster, but it wouldn’t cause leaf edges to blacken as well.

  139. Lou on June 12, 2017 at 11:36 am

    I planted several hydrangeas last year but 2 of them just seem to need an extravagant amount of water, they were fine yesterday and this morning I see all the leaves down and they looked like they were dying! is this normal? the other plants are fine except these 2! now I regret doing black mulch which probably doesn’t help when they get so hot in the sun….although after all the rain that we just had this season and today being only the second hot day of the summer I am worried they won’t last…

    • CLFornari on June 12, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      It is normal for large-leaf hydrangeas to wilt in hot weather but recover in the evenings once the sun is down. Plants with large leaves respire more water though the leaf pores when it’s hot than the plant can take up to replace it through the roots – so the plant wilts. If you are handwatering you contribute to the problem because you aren’t ever soaking the soil widely, all around the surrounding area of the plant and deeply – people get bored before a plant is deeply watered. You might consider a soaker hose that you can turn on for a couple of hours every four to six days depending on the weather.

  140. Sarah on June 27, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I planted some pink and blue hydrangeas this spring but there is only one bloom on one of my hydrangeas. The rest have no blooms yet but beautiful green leaves and the one blooming has only one bloom. Is there anything wrong with them or they are going to bloom later?

    • CLFornari on June 27, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Sarah,
      If they don’t show buds now it’s likely that they won’t flower until next summer. These plants form their flower buds the summer before, and usually you’ll see them by early July. Don’t cut any of the canes down in the fall or next spring unless the canes are still bare at the end of May. Those stems with green leaves will be forming flower buds in August (although you won’t see them) that will flower next year.

  141. Mike on June 29, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Hi, we have a hydrangea tree that is about 15 years old and well established. It is starting to get its leaves as usual (we live in MA on the other end of the state from you). Everything looks fine, however we noticed on the truck at the bottom near the ground a patch of bark missing. When we investigated the missing section we saw a slimy/pulpy substance. The underlying wood does not appear to be soft other than this substance, but the tree seems to move easier than it should if it is gently “pushed.” Any idea as to what could be causing this? Is the tree salvageable? Thank you for any insight.

    • CLFornari on June 29, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Mike,
      There is a bacterial condition called “slime flux” but I don’t know if it affects Hydrangea paniculata, however, and without a lab test it’s impossible to know if this is what you have. Read more about it here: http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/all-fact-sheets/wetwood-or-slime-flux

      In the meantime, be sure that the plant isn’t being hit frequently with automatic irrigation which can make any bacterial/fungal condition worse.

  142. Kari Stohler on July 6, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Help, I bought two beautiful mopcap hydrangeas to plant in my front yard, which receive morning/afternoon sun until about 3:00, and they are not thriving. Even though I am watering the plants almost daily, the blooms are turning brown and when I lightly touch them, they fall off in my hand. Some blooms just fall off when it rains. I had the same beautiful plant at my former house which grew beautifully in the hot afternoon sun, so I thought my new plants would be okay. I noticed movement under the soil, I assume by some sort of animal. Could this possibly be the problem? I even used the best MiracleGrow potting soil. Please help, I don’t want to lose my plants!

    • CLFornari on July 6, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Kari
      First of all, mophead flowers tend to brown out when they get the strongest sun from 11 to 2. So for the longest lasting flowers be sure to plant mopheads where they get only morning sun or late-afternoon sun. Secondly, you should be watering the entire area around the plants, not just at the base of the plants. This is because if the soil is dry all around where you planted them it will suck moisture away and the roots won’t grow into the soil surrounding to create a strong root system. So it’s far better to water with a soaker hose or sprinkler over a larger area for a longer time, but do so less often, than it is to handwater every day. I have no idea why the flowers are falling off… And be sure that the plant isn’t given too strong a fertilizer. (A light application of Holly-tone once a year should be enough).

  143. Emy on May 4, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    I purchased 3 “magical revolution” hydrangeas. They were doing well for a week, then the blooms started to fade in color, and now one of the plants has drooping leaves. I was able to check for root rot, and there is no sign of it. No worms or pests either. The others are starting to show similar signs of drooping leaves and curled petals.
    I water them when I feel the soil start to dry. What am I doing wrong?

    • CLFornari on May 4, 2018 at 9:13 pm

      Emy,
      I’m assuming that you’ve put these plants in the ground, not in pots, right? In any case, it could be they are fading and curling because they are in too much sun. This type of Hydrangea likes about three or four hours of either morning or late afternoon sun, but shade in the middle of the day. Also, when you water be sure you are soaking the entire root ball well. If the plants are in the ground that means soaking the soil around the plant, not just the area right under the stems…if the surrounding soil is dry it will suck the moisture from the root ball pretty quickly. If the plants are in a pot that means watering really well until the water comes out of the drainage hole, and then waiting a few minutes before watering again. Hydrangeas that were grown in pots usually have a pretty congested root system so it’s important to give them a deep soaking when you water. A deep soaking less often is better than a lick and a promise every day.

  144. Deborah Hoobler on May 24, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Last Spring I purchased my first Hydrangea. It had Beautiful Big Blue Flowers, but this year they have no color. Despite the fact that I have added Esppoma Organic Soil Acidifier that says it turns Hydrangea Blue the flowers are a light green. I added 2 1/2 cups last month and another 2 1/2 cups 4 days ago. What am I doing wrong?

    • CLFornari on May 24, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      Deborah,
      Are you saying that the plant isn’t flowering or that it’s a different color? Note that the blue hydrangeas don’t come out blue early in the season – they open up kind of white and green, with blue edges, but turn the richer blue later in the summer. If yours are just opening, be patient…they will turn blue as they mature.

  145. Edward in NY State on June 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    My 20 year old hydrangea tree (one of a pair) has barely leafed whereas the other is fully leafed and there are very few leaves on it altogether. Any clue what may have happened?

    • CLFornari on June 5, 2018 at 12:55 am

      Edward,
      First, look all over the tree, up and down, to see if there was damage at the base or other areas. Sometimes mice/voles or other critters eat the bark, or string trimmers or other mechanical damage happens that prevents the plant from sending energy from the roots up to the top. Similarly, look for cracks or other physical damage near the graft, if this is a grafted tree form.

      The other problems that can cause what you see could be something at root level, such as drought from the past year or two, or the opposite, too much water which has caused rotting roots.

      The bottom line is that sometimes the death or poor health of a plant is a combination of things that has gone on for three years or more that we are not aware of. I personally have a Hydrangea paniculata tree that is barely alive this spring after 9 years of good health. And although I know that three years ago it was in a bad drought, I have no idea if I’m seeing the results of that or something else that I’m not aware of.

      My fellow garden writer Scott Aker, Horticulturist at the National Arboretum, once said, “Trees make up their mind whether they’re going to die or live and what we do doesn’t usually affect this.” As a home gardener, I’ve learned the wisdom of his remarks.

  146. Norma L. on June 11, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    My hydrangea plants are in very lg. pots. They bloomed beautiful the first summer, but I took them inside for the winter and when I brought them out this summer they has aphids all over them. We used a mix of Dawn dish soap in water and soaked top and bottom of the leaves, let them set for a day or so and then washed them off. Did this several times for a couple of weeks every three or four days and the aphids did die. BUT now some of the buds just drop off before coming to full bloom altho we do have some flowers. Are they coming back? Don’t really see them but that doesn’t mean they are not somewhere. I did not cut them back last winter, did not know I was supposed to, and they are spindly, not at all as beautiful as last summer. What have I done all wrong. Thanks

    • CLFornari on June 11, 2018 at 2:41 pm

      Norma,
      The buds that dropped off will not be back. They might have responded to the Dawn…Dawn is not intended for use on plants and since it’s not pure soap, it can harm plants. In the future either use pure Ivory soap flakes, or buy an insecticidal soap from the garden center. Enjoy the flowers you have and put some organic fertilizer on the plants as well as a top-dressing of compost or earth worm castings.

  147. Teresa on July 19, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Oh, I’m so sad thst my potted pinky-winky went w/o water in 90deg weather for 4days. All the foliage &flowers completely dried up. It was looking it’s best in the 5yrs I have had it. Sooooo sad, I lost my beauty while away @my daughter’s wedding. I hope it comes back next spring, but right now I am not sure how to treat it to help it flourish. Can you help? I live in the Pacific NW

    • CLFornari on July 19, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Teresa,
      We can hope that there is still life in the stems. I’m assuming you already watered it. Clip back the branches by a few inches – since I don’t know how large the plant is it’s hard to say how much…but normally since Pinky Winkys grow pretty quickly, I’d say you can cut off at least 5 or 6 inches – removing all dried flowers. The plant will shed dried leaves on its own. Then water it as you normally did – don’t over water since you don’t want any living roots to rot! In fact, since right now the plant doesn’t have leaves it won’t need as much water as it did in the past. So feel the soil and if it’s starting to feel dry, give it a good soaking. Wait to see if there are any signs of life. If your local garden center has earthworm castings spread a layer of that over the surface. If you can’t find those, a light application of an organic fertilizer that has a host of mycorrhizae in it would also be fine. Don’t be tempted to give it a bunch of synthetic fertilizer (the blue liquid…) right now as that might cause more harm than good. Wishing you luck!

  148. Patrick R on July 24, 2018 at 2:18 am

    Hi- I planted Annabelle hydrangeas about 3 weeks ago in a shady area. I water every 2-3 days for about 10 min. I also put mulch on the bed. In 3 days all of my plants have lost the buds and are now scorched. They look like someone too a lighter to them. What could have happened and can they recover?

    • CLFornari on July 24, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Patrick,
      A scorched looking Annabelle could have two or three causes what you’re seeing. The most likely is that it dried up. Since this is a new plant it has the root system the size of the pot and because those leaves and flowers are large, if you planted it in a sunny spot or if it’s hot it would have need watering every day while it gets established. 10 Minutes might be enough if the soil around the plant was moist – but if the surrounding area is dry you’ll have to water that too or it will suck the water away from the plant. Once an annabelle is established they can go 3 to 5 days between watering, but not now. Also, if you live in a place where it’s hot this plant should have afternoon shade. The other thing that can cause this is fertilizer burn – too strong a application of synthetic fertilizer. And finally, if you sprayed the leaves and flowers with water out of a sun-heated hose, that can cause browning.

  149. L. Roberts on August 17, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Hi there! We have a 17 year old hydrangea shrub that has always done so well without any special attention. The shrub is very large – about 4.5 feet high and round. This spring I noticed a dead area (cane and leaves) through the middle of the plant. Today, I noticed that 1/4 of the plant is dead through the middle. What have we done wrong? Can we keep our hydrangea alive? It had large, white flowers but I haven’t seen them this year. We live in Indiana (zone 6). Thank you in advance for any insight you can give us.

    • CLFornari on August 17, 2018 at 3:05 am

      L. Roberts: Without seeing this shrub it’s impossible to know what has gone on. Physical injury? Borer in the stem? Rot? That said, what you should do now is prune out all dead wood, making the cuttings at an angle so that they shed water. Next, spread two bags of composted cow manure around the plant under and just past the drip line – spread about 1 to 2 inches thick from the trunk to beyond the dripline. Water deeply once a week if it doesn’t rain and hope for the best!

  150. Nancy on March 31, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Hi
    I have several small hydrangeas that were planted in poor soil..Should I lift them and replant with good soil or can I topdress them each year. They do bloom but are not growing much
    thank you

    • CLFornari on March 31, 2019 at 7:56 pm

      If your soil is pure sand I’d lift, amend in a wide area, and replant. But if it’s just compact, or clay, you can top dress – fertilize first, then spread an inch of compost or manure, taking it out two to three feet from the plant, and top that with an inch of either bark mulch or shredded leaves.

  151. Kallie C on April 7, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Purchased in pot hydrangeas to transplant to outdoors. They came with bands around the stems and sticks to support them upright. Can/should remove them?

    • CLFornari on April 7, 2019 at 9:51 pm

      Yes, they should be removed but if you think that the plant isn’t strong rooted, you could put some other support next to the stem for the first month or two. Most gift-hydrangeas sold at this time of year have supports mainly to protect them in shipping. Plants in the outdoors actually grow stronger without support.

  152. Annie F on April 11, 2019 at 4:16 am

    Hello,
    I have 2 Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea Paniculata plants (one bush form and one I trained into a tree form) that I’ve had for about 3 years now. They’ve both done well so far but now the tree form and one limb of the bush form has leaves that are coming in long, spindly and deformed.The other limbs and leaves on the bush form are just fine. Also, some leaves are yellowed with green veins. Could the yellowing be an iron/calcium issue?

    • CLFornari on April 11, 2019 at 8:58 pm

      Annie,
      Yellow leaves with green veins can be a sign of many problems, including too MUCH magnesium in the soil (has anyone put epsom salt in the area?), or herbicide damage. In order to tell, you’ll need to have a soil test done. The fact that the problem is only on one side of the plant argues against a nutrient deficiency. Think about what has gone on around the plant in the past (all garden or household products).

  153. Debi on April 17, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    The bark seems to be coming off my hydrangea tree. Is it salvageable? How? Thank you in advance

    • CLFornari on April 17, 2019 at 4:35 pm

      Debi,
      Several things can make a hydrangea tree shed bark. Sometimes it’s just the old bark flaking, which is normal. But if the tree is dying or has a disease, it might not be fixable. You’ll have to take photos into your local garden center or cooperative extension so that someone can lay eyeballs on it. In the meantime, don’t spray with anything, fertilize or tray and paint the trunk with any substance as you might do more harm than good.

  154. John on April 19, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Hi I have mop heads and some endless summer plants. It seems every winter they die back to the ground and I see very little of no flowers. I have 30″ long dead stems and new growth from the stump. Any recommendations to see more flowers

    • CLFornari on April 19, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      John,
      These plants bloom on “old wood” meaning they form their flower buds in August of the previous year. If those buds get zapped by single digit or below-zero temps, or if the canes get cut down in fall or spring, you won’t have flowers. See more here: https://www.gardenlady.com/read-articles/why-doesnt-my-endless-summer-hydrangea-bloom/

      • John on April 19, 2019 at 3:03 pm

        Thanks I live in central Mass where we do see some single digit days so I will try the protection path this fall and hope for a bigger crop of flowers next year.

        • CLFornari on April 19, 2019 at 4:46 pm

          You can certainly try protection but it’s usually not effective. Good luck!

  155. Cheryl on May 6, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    I planted 3 everlasting ocean hydrangeas late in the summer last year. This spring one has quite a few leaves coming up at the base, one has just a few very tiny leaves coming up, and one has no leaves at all yet. Do you think my one with no leaves is a lost cause or could it just be taking a little longer than the others? I’m also not sure what to do about pruning them.

    • CLFornari on May 7, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Cheryl,
      These form their flower buds on the canes the previous summer- so any cane with green foliage on it now will flower. The plant will also put up leaves and new stems from the ground. These will add to the plant’s size but won’t produce flowers this year. Wait a month to see if the plant that has no growth produces green leaves from ground level. If you don’t see any by the end of May chances are it’s gone.

  156. jennifer Thompson on May 20, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    My hydrangeas are too short! They will not grow taller than about 12″. They do grow a few blooms. They are from a nursery and 3 years old this year. They face north in front of my home and get a few hours of direct sunlight early in the day and are never overwhelmed by the hot sun. I live in KS zone 6a. Any advice at all please will be much appreciated. I planted them in hopes to fill up the 2 beds in front of my beautiful porch.

    • CLFornari on May 20, 2019 at 6:27 pm

      Jennifer,
      Do you know what variety they are? Some varieties, such as Pia, are dwarf and don’t grow much taller than that. We assume that you’re not cutting them down, right? If your winter temps are going into the single digits or below zero, that will zap the tops of canes, causing your plants to be shorter, especially in the first few years. We’d suggest that you put an application of Hollytone followed by a 1″ layer of composted manure around each plant, then cover that with 1 inch of bark mulch. Water these plants deeply (soaker hose or sprinkler, not hand watering) every 5 to 7 days in moderate temps and every 3 to 5 days in hot summers.

  157. Eleanor Colantuoni on May 26, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    I’m in zone 5 and purchased a hydrangea about 2 weeks ago. I noticed the blooms are turning light brown and the leaves are turning black with some grey on the edge. The black part is not crispy, it’s still shiny and smooth to touch. I just planted it this morning facing south, but it only gets morning sun. Is the black a fungus or from over watering?

    • CLFornari on May 27, 2019 at 12:34 am

      Eleanor,
      Without seeing the leaves or knowing what type of hydrangea you have it’s impossible to diagnose your problem. But good general advice is to water deeply less often, mulch around the plant to hold in moisture, don’t get the foliage wet and don’t fertilize this year. Hydrangeas can get powdery mildew which is grey, black can be fungal or fertilizer burn.

  158. Shar on May 29, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    I’m in zone 7 have 2 limelights one of holes wasn’t dug wide enough to cover all the roots of the plant, (depth is good)can I cover the roots with a mound of dirt and the plants live? They both look good for now, they are showing new growth.

    • CLFornari on May 29, 2019 at 8:33 pm

      Shar,
      If the plants were put in recently it would be better to pop the one not covered and replant it so that the roots are covered. The problem with mounding dirt over roots that show is that this often washes off in a hard rain. Better to replant so that it’s right.

  159. LA on May 31, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    my 5 year old white diamonds (paniculata) leaf buds started to open and then stopped developing, two weeks in and they are the same size, we’ve had an unusually wet 2019 , what the heck is wrong with it?

    • CLFornari on May 31, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      LA
      Sometimes this is a sign of winter damage – the plant has enough energy to start producing leaves but not enough to keep those leaves growing. Other times it’s a sign of fertilizer or herbicide burn, if a chemical fertilizer or herbicide has been applied in the area. It could also be fungal but that’s not very common on these plants…in other words, it’s impossible to diagnose without more information, but that will give you some things to think about as you figure it out. You might try pruning it back to stimulate some new growth.

      • Sherry Mayhew on May 31, 2019 at 4:00 pm

        Thank you LA – I left a comment regarding this subject – I live in Northwest Indiana zone 5b and I have a vanilla strawberry hydrangea that is in its second year of growth and we have a very cold winter 2018- temp down to -57 degree below zero- the plant is alive in well draining good soil on the south side of the garden near the house-it has not leaved out at all-we have been experiencing a very cold and wet Spring – do you think the growth is just delayed?

        • CLFornari on May 31, 2019 at 11:34 pm

          Sherry,
          A repeat of what I said before: It might just be delayed because of the very cold winter, or it might be so damaged that it won’t come back. Green under the bark isn’t necessarily a sign that a plant has enough life in it to put out new growth. At this point, prune it back a bit and wait and see. If you don’t see any growth by the end of June it’s likely that it just got too damaged in the winter.

  160. Sherry Mayhew on May 31, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    5/31/19-Northwest Indiana – Zone 5b very cool winter 2018-temp were down to -57 below zero-we are having a very cold and wet Spring- My vanilla strawberry hydrangea is receiving full sun (South side of the garden) – the plant is up near the house and it is in good well draining soil – however it is has not leaved out at ALL and yes it is still alive – the stems under the bark are green – is this plant suffering from the cold winter – has the growth been delayed?

    • CLFornari on May 31, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      Sherry,
      It might just be delayed because of the very cold winter, or it might be so damaged that it won’t come back. Green under the bark isn’t necessarily a sign that a plant has enough life in it to put out new growth. At this point, prune it back a bit and wait and see. If you don’t see any growth by the end of June it’s likely that it just got too damaged in the winter.

  161. Anne on June 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Hi… great information!
    I am in Ohio. I bought the Endless Summer about five or six years ago, and I’m fairly sure it was the original really big heads of bloom. At least, when I bought them they were like that. But now I can only get them to be lace top. The plants look really healthy, produce lots of blooms, and I get excited thinking I’m finally going to get a big mop head. Then it fizzles out and does nothing more than a lacy top.
    Am I doing something wrong? Or, is it possible that a mop head can ‘turn into’ a lace top? Seems like a silly question, but I really want the big huge blooms like what I thought I was buying?

    They are in full sun, so maybe that’s a problem, but otherwise look really healthy and have lots of blooms. I have combatted fungus in the past, but I keep on top of it with a disease control product

    • CLFornari on June 4, 2019 at 3:24 pm

      It’s possible that either there was another plant in the pot along with the Endless Summer. Endless summer won’t “revert” to a lacecap hydrangea, but there might have been one growing in that container and then the ES died, leaving that plant. Many lacecaps are varieties of Hydrangea serrata and these are more bud-hardy than the H. macrophylla (mophead hydrangeas.) You aren’t doing anything wrong, and a lacecap won’t change to a mophead.

      The flowers on both lacecaps and mopheads last longest when the plants are in morning sun and afternoon shade.

      • Anne on June 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

        Ok, thank you. I actually bought four of them at the same time, and they’re all the same. So I doubt it was that two things were in the pot. One of the four is in a somewhat shadier location than the other three, but all four are lacetops now.
        They’re pretty, but not what I was expecting! 😀
        Thanks for your quick response though… I’ve been trying for five years to get these to bloom like I expected!

  162. Sharon Pledger on June 5, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Hello,

    I put in a Pee Gee Hydrangea ornamental tree last year. I am zone 4 and have other other Pee Gee ornamental and Lime Light trees . This spring after pruning, new buds were abundant and leaf growth started. It has been very cool and wet and I see in this last week the Pee Gee Tree new leaf growth has become stunted and very small on about half of the tree. Upon examination I noticed a few fine spider webs, but could not see any spider mites under the leaves. To be on the safe side, I ave it a mist of diluted Dawn dish soap and water. The stunting is continuing and seems to be spreading to the healthier leaves. I can not find anything about stunted leaf growth. Do you have any ideas? Thanks you for any help you might offer. Sharon

    • CLFornari on June 5, 2019 at 1:23 pm

      Sharon,
      First of all, know that webs on outdoor plants don’t usually mean that the plant has spider mites. Secondly, has an herbicide been used around or near these plants? Preen, a weed killer, or weed control product on the lawn? Stunted leaves are often a sign of herbicide damage.

      • Sharon Pledger on June 5, 2019 at 5:34 pm

        No, no herbicides used on my grass ever. The stunted leaves today are starting to blacken in places and curl. Those leaves are dying. I hope my application of diluted Dawn dish soap didn’t harm the leaves! We had all day heavy rain yesterday, so would have washed it all off anyways. It has been a very wet cool spring even up until today. This tree is up on a higher mounded garden so should not have the dreaded root rot I would think. The Pee Gee looks very bad today! Any suggestions how I might save it? Thanks for your feed back, very much appreciated!

        • CLFornari on June 7, 2019 at 8:49 pm

          Usually I’d say don’t use Dawn – it has assorted chemicals in it that aren’t good for plants. It could be that you have a combination of sucking insects such as whitefly or aphids and a fungal condition caused by the cold wet spring. Not root rot. That would turn the leaves yellow. If it was my plant I’d just wait and see if it grows out of it as the weather gets warmer – and I wouldn’t spray anything else on it for awhile.

  163. Sherry Mayhew on June 7, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Is there a hydrangea that will take the very cold winters of the Midwest – I really like the look of the Paniculatas -PG cone shaped blooms and the south side of the garden is the only place I have (surrounded by concrete and driveway on the North-West and East) any suggestions?

    • CLFornari on June 7, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      The paniculatas are hardy to zone 4 (-25) and many of them will also live in a warm zone 3. The Annabelle (Hydrangea arborescens) is also hardy to zone 3 so those would be the best for where you are. I see both growing well in central Wisconsin, where I’m from…

  164. Rebecca Brandsted on June 8, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    I have five mop head hydrangeas in my front yard. Two have cone back full and bushy for the past 8 years. The other three don’t seem to fill out with very many new branches, especially in the center, where it looks like some of the old wood has no new growth at all. They have become very spindly and “leggy”. We usually cut all of them to about 18 inches in the late fall. Any ideas? I have photos.

    • CLFornari on June 9, 2019 at 12:40 am

      Rebecca,
      We’re not set up for photos here – we’re a garden center, not a full-time hydrangea help line, even though we see that many could use Hydrangea Help 24-7! In any case, your three that don’t fill out might need some attention at the soil level – a good 2″ layer of composted manure that is spread not only over the stems but also a two feet or more away from the stems so that all the root zones are covered. If these were our plants we’d put some Holly-tone in that area (again, not just under the stems but two to three feet out on all sides…that’s where the roots are growing!) and then 2″ of manure on top of that. We would remove any dead canes and water them deeply once a week all summer. (Twice a week if the temperatures go above 80). Also, we would NEVER cut them back – mopheads bloom on old stems so the only pruning that should be done is to remove any bare or dead wood in mid-May. If you prune them down in the fall you are cutting off potential flowers for the coming summer.

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